Weeknight Cooking

Canal House Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad

May 22, 2015
5 Ratings
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

This salad comes from "Canal House Cooks Every Day." What surprised me about the recipe was both the dressing made from water, grated Pecorino cheese, and olive oil and the absence of lemon, which proves to be unnecessary thanks to the tangy, sharp Pecorino (though a squeeze of lemon wouldn't do any harm). This dressing can be made with Parmigiano Reggiano—I've tried—but for reasons I cannot explain does not emulsify as well as when made with Pecorino. I typically prefer Parmigiano Reggiano, but here I don't.

The dressing can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for at least a week. No need to bring it to room temperature before serving, but give it a good stir before tossing it with the vegetables. Use the vegetables as a guide, too; I have been peeling a dozen or so stalks of asparagus every night, tossing them with a couple tablespoons of the dressing, then finally tossing with arugula. I love serving this salad over pizza dough baked with olive oil and salt, though a simple bruschetta is nice, too. —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups (4 3/4 ounces) finely grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 pound fat asparagus
  • 8 cups (4 ounces) arugula
  • Pizza dough or bruschetta for serving
  1. For the dressing: Place the cheese in a large bowl. Gradually add 1/2 cup of boiling water, whisking constantly. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly. Taste. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. For the salad, lay the spears flat on a cutting board and trim off the woody ends with a sharp knife. Using a vegetable peeler and pressing hard, shave each spear into long, thin ribbons. (If necessary, cut the final layer of each stalk into thin strips—it might be thicker than the other ribbons, which is just fine.) Trim off each tip and cut lengthwise in half. Toss the asparagus pieces with several tablespoons of the dressing. Add arugula and toss again. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
  3. Serve with bruschetta or over flatbread or pizza.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Suma Chandrasekaran
    Suma Chandrasekaran
  • asbrink
  • Jessee Fish
    Jessee Fish
  • Robin Meredith
    Robin Meredith
  • Dianecpa
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

17 Reviews

Suma C. January 3, 2021
I never would have thought of eating raw asparagus and wow, what an introduction! Didn't have any flatbread, and didn't miss it! Will make again!
asbrink April 27, 2017
Love the Canal House ladies (and their blog at http://lunch.thecanalhouse.com/) and agree that they definitely have the most enviable-looking asparagus specimens (and any produce, frankly). This recipe reminds of Deb's shaved asparagus pizza @Smitten Kitchen (https://smittenkitchen.com/2010/05/shaved-asparagus-pizza/), which basically takes your flatbread-topped suggestion one step further.
Jessee F. July 12, 2015
is the asparagus cooked or raw??
Alexandra S. July 12, 2015
Robin M. June 14, 2015
As an equipment challenged chef (no scale!), I always find measuring out grated cheese by volume kind of tricky. Is the 1 1/2 cup measurement in the recipe based on using a microplane or some other instrument? I just finished the dressing and it seems a bit thin, which makes me think I may not have used enough cheese.
Alexandra S. June 14, 2015
It is tricky! The volume varies dramatically depending on how finely the cheese is grated. I used a box grater, and I used the finest setting/side, but the cheese still had a grated texture — it wasn't like the almost powdery grated parmesan you buy at the store. So, maybe you do just need to add a little more cheese. And don't worry that the water isn't hot any more or that the oil has already been added — just whisk it in, taste it, and adjust accordingly.
Dianecpa June 14, 2015
This is killer...the dressing is amazing!!! I am going to cook some whole wheat pizza dough and I will be in "salad pizza heaven". I have to say, shaving asparagas isn't as easy as it sounds but I figured it out!
Alexandra S. June 14, 2015
So happy to hear this! And you are absolutely right — I thought the shaving would be so easy, and when I first started doing it, I was frustrated. I finally found my rhythm, and it became easy, but initially, it was tripping me up.

Yay for salad-pizza heaven!
Dianecpa June 12, 2015
On the menu for this weekend!
Alexandra S. June 12, 2015
chop C. May 25, 2015
Prepared this dish tonight. It is a delicious change of pace. My wife is a fan of it as well. Fresh and simple.
Alexandra S. May 25, 2015
So wonderful to hear this! We are loving it at my house as well.
Sarah F. May 25, 2015
How much water should you add to the cheese? This seems like a big detail to miss.
Alexandra S. May 25, 2015
Hi Sarah,

It's 1/2 cup of boiling water. Good luck with it! Made it again tonight using mustard greens in place of the arugula, and I added a handful of chopped basil, too, because I had it — so good.
chop C. May 25, 2015
Step 1 says a 1/2 cup of boilng water.
Sarah F. May 25, 2015
Sorry I missed it there! I was so enthralled by your original telling (that's where I got my cooking instructions) that I didn't see it in the step-by-step portion at the end. Wonderful change to my normal asparagus preparations. I'm going to start going through a lot of cheese!
Alexandra S. May 26, 2015
No worries at all! I should add the 1/2 cup water to the recipe list. And yes re cheese! What's nice about the dressing is that it makes a lot. It's so nice having the dressing on hand — a couple tablespoons go a long way.