by Niki Ford
Everyone should have a salad like this up his or her sleeve. An unassuming yet surprisingly elegant tangle of asparagus ribbons and butter lettuce with a completely addictive creamy vinaigrette, it’s beyond satisfying as a first course, roast- chicken sidekick, or partner to flaked smoked trout or salmon. The dressing is delicious with little gem lettuces and baby romaine, too.
- 2 small heads red butter lettuce rough outer leaves removed
- 6 thick asparagus spears
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon crème fraîche or sour cream
- 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
- Kosher salt
- 3 French breakfast radishes or other red radishes thinly sliced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 cup chives sliced on the diagonal into 1⁄4-inch batons, for garnish
Remove the cores from the heads of butter lettuce. Wash, dry, and tear the leaves into large pieces, leaving the smaller, inner leaves whole. Place an asparagus spear on a cutting board, hold it down at the stem, and using a peeler, peel long strips of asparagus from close to the stem through the tip until you can no longer do so. Repeat with the remaining asparagus spears. Reserve the asparagus ribbons.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil. Whisk in the crème fraîche, then slowly whisk in the cream. Season with a few pinches of salt.
Place the lettuce, asparagus, and radishes in a medium bowl. Gently toss the salad with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper, transfer to a platter, sprinkle with the chives, and serve.
Photo Maren Caruso