Have you had enough of the winter root vegetables yet? Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with them. In October. But by April, I’m SO over parsnips and potatoes, and I’m craving something fresh, green, and with a much shorter shelf life. Thank heavens it’s asparagus season! I’m seeing those lovely pencil thin asparagus all over the place, and while I do realize you can get asparagus most of the year, there’s just nothing like spring asparagus. So tender, thin and crisp, they’re just screaming to be used in a fresh salad.
Since it will be a while before really good tomatoes make their appearance, cherry or grape tomatoes are just perfect for this salad. And make sure you use fresh lemons for the vinaigrette. Such simple, clean flavors here.
And let’s just talk about fried goat cheese rounds for a minute. Holy Moses. These are just like a giant crouton that’s full of melty cheese. I like to make up a bunch and keep them in my freezer. They fry up in about a minute, and they make any salad happy.
- 1-4 ounce package of goat cheese
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 pound thin asparagus
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 3 cups arugula or baby greens
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon for pan
- salt and pepper to taste
Slice the goat cheese into 4 even round slices.
Dip each slice into egg and then into panko, coating both sides well.
Place slices on a sheet of parchment paper and let chill in the refrigerator to firm up until ready to heat.
For vinaigrette, mix together lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Snap any tough ends off of the asparagus and discard. Cut the spears into 2-inch pieces.
Place the asparagus pieces in a microwave safe bowl with 1 tablespoon water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 1 minute, or until asparagus is just slightly tender-crisp. Remove plastic wrap and let cool.
If desired, slice tomatoes in half.
Place cooled asparagus, tomatoes and arugula in a large mixing bowl, and toss well.
Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine.
Heat a nonstick frying pan on high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
When pan is hot, salute goat cheese slices for about 1 minute on each side, or until panko is golden and crisp and cheese is softened and starts to melt.
Portion the salad onto 4 plates, and top each salad with 1 piece of warm goat cheese.
If desired, make up extra goat cheese rounds but don't fry them. Wrap each panko-covered piece of cheese in plastic wrap, and store them in a freezer bag for later. When you're ready to use them, let thaw for about 15 minutes, and then proceed with the sautéing instructions.
What kind of spring produce are you craving?