Almost too beautiful to eat, this still life painting of a dish is also too delicious to be left untouched! Gorgeous watermelon radishes might appear to be the star of this fresh spring salad, but buttery Castelvetranos olives steal the show as soon as you bite in.
This recipe is just another gem from Diane Morgan’s Roots: The Definitive Compendiumcookbook. Diane explores the surprisingly diverse world of root veggies with over 200 recipes in what is sure to be a veggie-lover’s staple for years to come. With an obsession for beets and carrots (have you tasted Roots 1?) that borders on the ridiculous, we were happy to learn of a few more creative ways to continue infusing these roots into our diet.
Originally developed by Diane’s assistant Andrea Slonecker for the Oregonian’s Mix magazine, this entertaining-worthy salad is a simple toss of spring’s most exquisite ingredients. Enjoy!
Shaved Watermelon Radish and Asparagus Salad with Castelvetrano Olives and Gouda
(Serves 8 to 10)
60 medium-large asparagus spears, ends trimmed or snapped away
2 cups Castelvetrano olives
4 medium watermelon radishes, trimmed
5 oz Gouda or other semi-firm cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil for dressing
White balsamic vinegar for dressing
Freshly cracked pepper
Have ready a steamer rack and a pan of simmering water. Fill a large bowl with ice water and place near the stove. Line a platter with a double thickness of paper towels and place near the ice water. Working in batches, arrange about one-third of the asparagus on the steamer rack and place the rack over the water, making sure the water is 1 in/2.5 cm or so below the rack. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and steam the asparagus until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, immediately transfer the asparagus to the bowl of ice water. Let cool for a few minutes and then transfer the asparagus to the towel-lined platter and blot dry. Repeat with the remaining asparagus, steaming and cooling them in two batches.
Using a sharp paring knife, slice each asparagus spear in half lengthwise, or in thirds if the spears are particularly thick. Set aside. (The asparagus can be prepared to this point up to 4 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate.)
Pit the olives by crushing them with the side of a chef’s knife or other hard, flat object. Work the pits out with your fingers and discard. Place the olives back into the olive juice (to keep their bright green color) and refrigerate until needed. (The olives can be prepared up to 4 hours in advance.)
Place the asparagus in a bowl and toss with just enough olive oil to coat without leaving a puddle at the bottom of the bowl. Drizzle with a splash of vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and then gently toss again. Arrange the asparagus on a platter or divide among individual salad plates.
Using a mandoline set on the narrowest setting, shave the radishes into rounds and place in a bowl. Toss the radish slices with just enough olive oil to coat, add a splash of vinegar, and then season with salt and pepper and toss again. Spread the radish slices across the center of the plated asparagus. Drain the olives and scatter them around the platter or plates. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin slices of the cheese over the top.
Garnish with pepper and serve immediately.