Cucumber and Asparagus Salad
Fresh asparagus and toasted pine nuts make this salad extraordinary.
Wash asparagus and cut off tough stems. (Discard 1–2 inches depending on the size of the spears.) Blanch in boiling water for 1–2 minutes, until spears are bright green and still firm. Remove from boiling water and rinse with cold water. Drain well.
Slice spears into ½-inch pieces, leaving tips intact. Peel and dice cucumbers. Trim and dice tomatoes.
Combine asparagus, cucumbers, and tomatoes with onion and pine nuts in a large bowl.
Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and garlic. Pour over asparagus mixture. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for 15–30 minutes.
Arrange romaine leaves over the bottom of a shallow bowl. Stir asparagus mixture well. With a slotted spoon, pile asparagus salad over romaine leaves, sprinkle with pepper, and serve.
Warm and Toasty
Toasted pine nuts add a rich, satisfying flavor to salads and they smell heavenly while toasting. To toast, pour nuts into a dry, heavy skillet and cook over medium-high heat, shaking and turning frequently, until kernels just start to brown. Remove from pan immediately and allow to cool on a plate.