While spring also means ramps, leeks, spring onions, radishes and peas, my heart beats only for asparagus. Verdant, grassy, crispy-crunchy — though is site is already full of asparagus recipes (see here, here, here, here and here), there’s always space for more.
In my endless quest to create easy lunch-friendly recipes, I inevitably go back to the same formula: some sort of grain (quinoa, rice, orzo, etc.) + roasted or sauteed (or sometimes fresh!) vegetables + possibly a protein and some sort of makeshift dressing. It’s an infinite well of ideas, and can be adapted for whatever season (it’s no wonder that I already have winter, fall and summer versions).
And now, a spring version. This spring lentil salad takes advantage of the season’s first asparagus, as well as white beans, ricotta salata and, to really take this over the top, shards of crisped prosciutto. Asparagus and prosciutto are always delicious together, but in my experience, prosciutto always gets super clumpy and weird in salads. My solution was to saute it until it got crisp and the porky salty goodness intensified, and the hardest part was not eating all of the prosciutto crumbles while the asparagus sauteed on the stove. (Thankfully, that doesn’t take very long — the entire meal comes together in less than 30 minutes.)
The end result is a gorgeous salad that screams spring. ‘Bout time already!
- 1 cup dried black lentils
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 ounces prosciutto
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup white wine or water
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 ounces ricotta salata, cubed (or crumbled feta)
- Cook the lentils according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. When the oil is sizzling, add the slices of prosciutto, crisping the meat in batches. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Add an additional tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the asparagus, white wine (or water), rosemary, thyme and oregano. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then uncover and increase the heat. Add the beans and saute, tossing frequently, until the asparagus and beans have browned slightly. Remove from the heat.
- Stir in the lentils and remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste (I'd go a bit easy on the salt, since both the prosciutto and the ricotta salata are salty), then toss in the crumbled prosciutto and cubed ricotta salata. Serve warm or at room temperature.