When you grow up in France or Germany, asparagus is invariably white, steamed or gently boiled, and served with some variant of Hollandaise sauce. When you move elsewhere, say to New York, your view of the world will likely deepen, expand, diversify; you will notice that asparagus can also be green.
You will learn that asparagus is, in fact, always green, that white asparagus is manually ‘blanched,’ hidden in little mounds of earth as it grows to prevent the sun from wielding its photosynthetic magic. You will discover that green asparagus absolutely should be grilled on a barbecue as soon the weather permits, or braised with a little acidity in the oven on a wintry spring evening. And, indispensably, green asparagus must also be eaten raw, in a simple salad, just like this.
The tricky aspect is slicing the asparagus very thinly, lengthwise, so a good vegetable peeler is a must. My personal favorite is this kind.
Green asparagus, it should be very fresh and taut
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Good quality balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Chunk of parmiggiano reggiano cheese
Wash the asparagus. With a knife, cut off the tough end of the stalks (about 1 inch) and discard.
Cut off the asparagus heads and slice these lengthwise in halves or thirds (depending how thick they are). For the stalks, use the vegetable peeler to shave them into long strands, beginning at the thicker end.
In a serving bowl, toss the asparagus with some olive oil, lemon juice, a few drops balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.
Add coarse shavings of parmiggiano reggiano, and serve.