From Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons, a favorite cookbook.
Bread Crumbs: I love whizzing up stale bread in the food processor and toasting the crumbs in olive oil. If you’re not up for this, panko bread crumbs would be fine. I would still toast them in olive oil before adding them to the salad. You also could omit the bread crumbs and add more walnuts in their place.
Also: You only need 1/3 cup of toasted bread crumbs for this recipe, but I find it easier to make a large batch of crumbs than a small one. Save the remaining crumbs for other salads, soups, or eggs. They’re irresistible!
for the toasted bread crumbs:
- a large hunk of bread, to yield 1.5 to 2 cups lightly packed fresh crumbs, see notes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
for the salad:
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 lb. asparagus, tough bottoms trimmed
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1/4–1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- salt to taste, I use Maldon here
- freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- zest from 1 lemon
- Juice from 1 to 2 lemons to yield 1/4 cup
- 1/4 cup lightly packed mint leaves, optional
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- To make the crumbs: Place day-old bread in the food processor and whiz until fine. Measure out 1.5 to 2 cups of crumbs. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the crumbs and the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crumbs are golden brown. This could take 5 to 15 minutes (or longer) depending on your heat level. If you have the time, go slowly to prevent burning. When the crumbs are nice and golden, turn off the heat. Let cool briefly. Taste. Add more salt if necessary. Measure out 1/3 cup of the crumbs — this is the amount the original recipe calls for. You can use more if you wish.
- To toast the walnuts: Place the walnuts in a medium skillet. Set the skillet over low heat. Allow the walnuts to toast slowly while you prepare the salad. Remove them from the heat when they smell and look toasty. You can chop them on a cutting board or by gently crushing them in a tea towel.
- Prepare the asparagus: Using a sharp knife, slice the asparagus thinly on the bias.
- Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the toasted walnuts, the 1/3 cup (or more!) toasted bread crumbs, the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, the crushed red pepper flakes (starting with 1/4 teaspoon if you are sensitive to heat), salt and pepper to taste, and the zest of the lemon. Stir to combine. Add the asparagus and toss to combine. “Taste and dial in the flavors by adding more salt, black pepper, chile flakes, or lemon juice. When the flavors are bright and delicious, add the mint (if using) and 1/4 cup olive oil.” Toss to combine. Taste and adjust the flavors again if necessary.
- Transfer to a serving platter. Crack more pepper over top if you wish.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Salad
- Method: Chop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: raw, asparagus, salad, walnuts, lemon, parmesan