Asparagus Salad with Tender Greens and Mint


This light, spring salad includes speck, a flavorful smoked ham that's a specialty of the South Tyrolean region of Italy.


  • ¼ cup champagne vinegar

  • 1 spring onion (bulb only) or shallot, finely chopped

  • Coarse salt

  • 1 pound green asparagus

  • 1 pound white asparagus

  • 1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 4 ounces mixed tender salad greens, such as mâche and baby arugula

  • ¾ cup loosely packed mint leaves

  • 8 thin slices speck (about 4 ounces)


  1. Bring vinegar and spring onion to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

  2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil; add salt. Prepare an ice-water bath, and set aside. Peel bottom 2 inches of asparagus, reserving peels. Blanch asparagus peels 2 minutes; immediately transfer with tongs to ice-water bath to stop the cooking. (Keep water at a boil.) Remove peels with a slotted spoon; set aside. (Reserve ice-water bath.) Blanch asparagus until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Immediately transfer with tongs to ice-water bath. Drain; set aside.

  3. Cut lower third from each asparagus spear, and transfer pieces to a food processor. Set remaining asparagus aside. Add reserved peels, the vinegar mixture, and mustard to processor; process until smooth. With processor running, pour in lemon juice and then oil in a slow, steady stream. Pass mixture through a fine sieve into a small bowl; discard solids. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

  4. Put salad greens and mint in a large nonreactive bowl (glass or ceramic). Drizzle with vinaigrette, and gently toss. Divide asparagus among serving plates. Top each serving with dressed salad greens and a slice of speck.

Cook's Notes

You can use thinly sliced prosciutto or another cured ham instead. Spring onions are a more mature version of scallions; they have large bulbs, which can be purple or white, and are available at specialty-food stores and farmers' markets.

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