Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Raw Asparagus Salad aka: Summer Potluck Crowd Pleaser

Vegan Asparagus Salad

I don't know if I'm more excited to write about raw asparagus or awesome pasta salad (yes, it does exist), so this post might get a little windy.  At the very least, while we're still in asparagus season I wanted to point out that asparagus is fantastic raw.  This news is fairly new to me and I'm taking full advantage of it while bundles are 2 for $5 at the local farmers' market.

Sliced thinly,  asparagus makes a great base for, or addition to, all kinds of dishes.  As with other green vegetables, it's alkalizing to the system, and contains lots of fiber and protein.  A 27 calorie serving of plain old asparagus contains 3 grams of protein.  Not too shabby. It's also especially high in B6, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. You can see a more complete nutritional profile here.  


Vegan Asparagus Salad



Now moving on to pasta salad.  There's just no good reason for pasta salad to be oozing with all kinds of artery clogging, cholesterol filled stuff like mayonnaise and hard boiled eggs.  There's also no reason that it shouldn't be vibrant, beautiful, nutrient dense, delicious and able to hold up well at a spring potluck or barbecue.  I mean really, who wants to eat something with eggs and mayonnaise in it ever after it's been sitting at room temperature for a couple of hours?  No thank you.

Feel free to play with the ingredients, I would just suggest keeping the proportions somewhere around 2 to 1 veggies to pasta.  In other words; make it a dish that's loaded with veggies and has pasta in it, rather than a big bowl of pasta with a few specks of green.  It'll nourish your body more completely, which actually makes you feel satisfied more quickly than you would eating a higher volume of less nutritious food.  (Ever finish a 2000 calorie bag of chips and still feel hungry?  Your body may well be craving nutrients.  Read more on this topic in Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life.)  If you're avoiding pasta or gluten, you can easily substitute quinoa, amaranth, or wild rice;  all are tasty alternatives that go even further boost the nutritional profile.  

Vegan Asparagus Salad

INGREDIENTS

2 bundles of asparagus - thinly sliced (leave the top inch in tact)
1 or two yellow, orange, or red bell peppers - thinly sliced
1 cup raw walnuts - roughly chopped
1 small bundle of chives - minced
1 to 1.5 cups sun dried tomatoes (non oil packed) - cut into strips
1 to 1.5 cups parsley - minced
1 box pasta - cooked according to package instructions, then rinsed with cold water to bring the temperature down

  • Combine all ingredients in a big bowl and then toss with your favourite home-made dressing. 
  • To save time, prepare vegetables while the pasta cooks.
  • If prepping ahead of time, wait to dress it until you're ready to serve.

Vegan Asparagus Salad

BASIC VINAIGRETTE

2 parts super high quality oil such as:  
First Cold Pressed Olive Oil / Flaxseed Oil / Hemp Oil / Pumpkin Seed Oil
1 part Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
Whole Grain Mustard to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Whisk everything together, taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Make a bunch and store it in the fridge for easy access.  It couldn't be easier to make and is so much better than commercial dressings, which are usually loaded with sugar and preservatives.


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