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Make This: Spring Salad with Purple Asparagus and Baby Shiitakes

I swung by the Boise Farmers Market this morning and picked up a thick bundle of purple asparagus. The vendor claimed the stalks have a sweeter flavor than the traditonal green variety, so I forked over $8 for a two-pound bunch and tucked it in my tote. When I saw a mound of delicate baby shiitakes at a nearby booth, I knew the two were destined to be together.

When my husband Alex got home from work, his eyes widened at my haul and he got right to work whipping up a mid-afternoon snack. He gathered some wild chickweed and miner's lettuce from the backyard and thinned some purple orach spinach from the garden. In less than 15 minutes, he'd tossed together an awesome spring salad bursting with bright purple colors, coated with a lick of lemon and lightly perfumed with blossoming lilac flowers lifted from the neighbor's tree.

The recipe is super simple but (kind of annoyingly) requires that you have all of these fresh ingredients in your garden or fridge:

Spring Salad with Purple Asparagus, Baby Shiitakes and Lilac Flowers

  • 7-8 stems purple asparagus (raw, sliced diagonally into thin, two-inch shards)

  • 10 baby shiitake mushrooms (raw, sliced thin)

  • 1 cup purple orach spinach (whole leaves)

  • 1/2 cup chickweed (hooray for wild edibles!)

  • 1/4 cup miner's lettuce (again, wild and abundant!)

  • 1/4 cup raw almonds (roughly chopped)

  • Pecorino Romano (grated on a microplane)

  • Juice from 1/2 to 1 lemon

  • Olive oil to taste

  • Sea salt to taste

  • Lilac flowers

Toss everything to combine, sprinkle with lilac flowers and serve with a glass of Rosé. Hooray spring!

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