Grilled Asparagus & Green Bean Salad with Parmesan & Cashews

About two weeks ago, my parents came down to Stellenbosch from Keurbooms for a quick visit. My dad was scheduled to see a specialist about a double-knee replacement (ouch), and it gave all of us a good excuse to spend some quality time together.

We got together at my youngest brother Dirkie’s farmhouse cottage, where he and his partner, Frans, made us the most amazing lunch: pork ribs on an open fire rotisserie, with grilled asparagus and fennel salad, bacon and mushroom quiche, and then ended things off with homemade coffee and brandy ice-cream with malva pudding. We ate like kings!

Dirkie told me that his idea for the salad came from Guy Fieri’s TV show, and that he was winging it that day from memory. It was absolutely magnificent. I wanted to make it for my blog, but couldn’t find fresh fennel as it is currently out of season. I substituted it with green beans, and the result was just as good.

This is my version of this delicious, luscious, green salad. Use whichever greens you love, and substitute them with nuts of your choice. Dirkie used pine nuts for his salad, but I find that toasted cashews make for a fantastic alternative. To bulk it up as a main meal, add some soft boiled egg wedges. What a feast!

 

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 15-30 ml olive oil
  • one bunch of green asparagus, trimmed if necessary
  • one bunch of fine green beans, trimmed (or one bunch of baby fennel, sliced in quarters lengthways)
  • salt & pepper
  • a bunch of rocket and/or watercress leaves, washed & drained
  • 100g toasted cashew nuts
  • shaved parmesan cheese (about 25-35g)
  • for the dressing:
    • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
    • 1 knob of fresh ginger, finely grated (optional)
    • 10 ml wholegrain mustard
    • 30 ml lemon juice
    • 90 ml extra virgin olive oil
    • 30 ml finely grated parmesan cheese
    • salt & pepper

Method:

Heat the oil in a large pan over high heat, then fry the asparagus & beans in batches for just a minute or two until they get some colour, but remain crunchy. Season well with salt & pepper, then remove from the heat and transfer to a cool plate.

On a large platter, arrange the rocket/watercress, then top with the grilled veg and toasted cashews.

Use a vegetable peeler to shave parmesan shavings on top.

Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a glass jar (shake vigorously with the lid covered), then drizzle all over the salad. Serve immediately.