I remember picking radishes out of my mother’s garden as a child. And I’m almost certain that I did not clean them with as much diligence (and an entire bottle of hand soap) as the first baby carrots I ever pulled out of the ground. Rather, I brushed off the dirt with my shirt, twisted off the ugly root, and dove right in. Crunchy and spicy, I enjoyed the radish in its freshest and rawest state without any adornments. But unfortunately, I never thought to approach asparagus in the same way.
Fresh asparagus, as I appreciate it now, signals the decline of thick greens and hearty root vegetables, and ushers in the lighter, more uplifting assortment that spring has to offer. However, in my childhood memories, I recall asparagus as a rather sad, drooping and stringy set of spears that were often overcooked, as that is the easiest and most frequent method of preparing a veggie that barely needs any time to cook. Except for eating it raw.
I don’t know why I never thought to tackle a raw spear as confidently as I took down that first radish from my mother’s garden. But now that I have, the sweet crunch of raw asparagus spears will be making its way into many more salads this season.
Sweet asparagus and zesty radish play off each other in this salad. For a smoky (and decidedly non-vegan) twist, add a small amount of smoked trout. The bright citrus and tangy sweetness of the dressing, which also includes a slight zing from horseradish, keeps this salad light, fresh, and perfect for spring.
Asparagus, Radish, and Smoked Trout Salad
Serves 1 as a main dish (2 as a side)
Calorie Count (vinaigrette included): 190 with smoked trout, or 123 for vegan version.
2 c. asparagus, sliced in 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces
1/2 c. radishes, halved and sliced thinly
2 green onions, sliced thinly from whites to light green middle (reserve dark green ends for another use)
1 1/2 oz. smoked trout (optional) (half a can at Trader Joe’s; reserve remainder for another salad)
1 lemon (recommended only if using smoked trout)
Lemon, Dijon and Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below)
In a medium bowl, toss asparagus, radishes, and green onions. Add smoked trout, if using, and squeeze lemon juice over trout. Toss entire mixture with Lemon, Dijon and Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Do ahead: Asparagus, radishes, and green onions can be prepped one day in advance, but do not add trout or toss with vinaigrette until right before serving or the radishes and onions get soggy and adopt a slightly pickled, fishy flavor.
Lemon, Dijon and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes 1/3 c.
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. horseradish
pepper and salt
Whisk lemon juice, Dijon, vinegar and horseradish until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust to desired consistency by whisking in water, 1 Tbsp. at a time. Do ahead: will keep in refrigerated airtight container for up to 5 days.