My favorite signs of the season are baseball spring training, lilacs in full bloom – and the appearance of our local asparagus.
Whether grown here in Sonoma or in the nearby delta region, asparagus season is in full swing.
I’ve always been partial to the fat spears, which have a sweeter flavor and are more suitable for this roasted salad.
The first of the season asparagus are also wonderful served thinly shaved and raw, with just a little lemon juice and olive oil.
Roasted Asparagus and Mushroom Salad with Arugula and Parmesan Cheese
Use a light touch with the dressing and serve this warm salad right away after assembling it, as the delicate arugula leaves are prone to wilting when they come in contact with the asparagus and mushrooms. Extra virgin olive oil may be substituted for the sunflower oil.
1/4 pound thick asparagus spears, stalk ends peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces on the bias
1/4 pound mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster, crimini, or champignons, wiped clean and thickly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon expeller-pressed sunflower oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound arugula
2 ounces dry cheese, such as Parmesan, dry Jack, or pecorino
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix asparagus spears, mushrooms, onion, sunflower oil, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan and roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until asparagus spears are crisp-tender. Cover vegetables with foil, to keep warm, until you are ready to assemble the salad.
Just before serving, lightly dress the roasted vegetables with some of the Citrus Vinaigrette and arrange them on salad plates. Dress arugula separately with more vinaigrette and mound the leaves on top of the vegetables. Shave cheese on top of each serving.
2 tablespoons expeller-pressed sunflower oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (regular lemon juice may be substituted)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons tamari
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
Shake all ingredients vigorously in a glass jar.
John McReynolds is culinary director at Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery and author of “Stone Edge Farm Cookbook.”