We went to Commonwealth in San Francisco for dinner a few Saturday nights ago and had a great meal. The menu is comprised of a few different groupings of small plates and of the dishes I had, most impressive was the shaved asparagus. I was amazed at how simple ingredients could come together so deliciously. With asparagus being readily available this time of year, I decided to give it a spin at home. The full description read as:
asparagus, crushed avocado, nasturtium, olive, chicory root, almond, meyer lemon
Now I do not know of a grocery store that regularly carries nasturtium or chicory root, and being Sunday I could not go to the Ferry Building Farmers Market to search for those ingredients. One other ingredient I had to do without was dehydrated black olives, specks of which accompanied the dish. As you can imagine, the little dried crumbs added a burst of salty flavor that is hard to imitate. Nonetheless, I used a little creativity to re-create the dish at home.
Shaved Asparagus Salad (inspired by Jason Fox, Executive Chef of Commonwealth, http://www.commonwealthsf.com/menus/)
1 bunch thick asparagus (they MUST be thick so you can “shave” them)
1 medium lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large avocado
1/4 cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped</span
1/4 cup parmesan, finely grated
2 tablespoons mint, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, coarsely chopped</span
Salt, to taste
Fill a large bowl with water and one cup of ice. Lay one asparagus spear on a cutting board. Take a vegetable peeler and shave the asparagus as if you were peeling a carrot. Continue “shaving” strands of asparagus until you cannot shave another layer. Add shavings to the bowl of ice water. Repeat with the other stalks of asparagus. Let the shavings sit in the ice water for 30 minutes. The ice water bath will make the shavings curl, which will add some visual appeal to the plate.
In a small bowl, cut the avocado in half, scoop out the flesh of the avocado and discard the seed. Mash the avocado with a fork until there are only tiny chunks left. Season the avocado with a couple of turns of coarsely grated salt and squeeze the juice from 1/4 of the lemon into the mixture. Stir to combine.
Drain the asparagus shavings well and return to the bowl. Squeeze the remaining lemon wedges over the asparagus, add the olive oil and the grated parmesan. Season with salt and toss to combine.
Place 1-2 tablespoons of the avocado mash off-center on each of four plates. Place asparagus in the center of the plate, slightly overlapping avocado but not completely hiding it. Sprinkle mint and parsley over asparagus and top with chopped almonds.