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Shaved Asparagus with Pecorino

May 5, 2009


Last week at our farmer’s market, spring was announcing its arrival in full force. I wandered the stalls, expecting to see the same familiar offerings I had for the past few weeks — spinach, kale, a few potatoes — when what to my wondering eyes did appear, but bunches of chives and asparagus spears!




So I’ve been waiting for the arrival of asparagus at this year’s market, because I’ve had in mind a memorable starter B and I ate at Lupa last June, while visiting Manhattan. (Actually, I think I referred to it as “ONE OF THE VERY BEST ASPARAGUS DISHES I HAD EVER EATEN.” What can I say, enthusiasm has always been one of my strong suits!) It was very simple: barely blanched asparagus, shaved or cut thin on the bias and dressed with extra-virgin olive oil, grated pecorino romano cheese, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Proof of the fact that often, the best way to serve a beautiful, picked-at-the-peak-of-ripeness vegetable is to do as little to it as possible, and also that a few high quality ingredients, used simply, can really make a stellar dish.


This dish comes together really easily, and I found it quicker and easier to slice the asparagus on an extreme bias with my chef’s knife rather than use my mandoline. If the spears are fresh and crisp, it’s easy to get some nice, thin slices.


I saved the tips for another use, since I’ve found that sometimes they can get a little mushy if they sit for a little while after they’re cooked — and mush was not what I was going for. I also wanted to keep the textures consistent; what I remembered from the restaurant was that it was solely thin shavings of tender-crisp asparagus stalks, no tips included.

I quickly blanched the asparagus slices in salty water just until they turned bright green, then I shocked them in ice water to set the color. After gently patting them dry, I tossed them with good extra-virgin olive oil, plenty of grated pecorino, a squeeze of lemon juice (don’t think this was in the original dish, but I like the way it brightens up the flavors just a touch), sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Simple simple.


The dish makes a fabulous first course, salad, or antipasto for the spring…it’s a great way to take advantage of the bright fresh asparagus showing up in the markets now! I know we’ll be eating it over and over while the asparagus gettin’ is still good.


Shaved Asparagus with Pecorino

Inspired by a dish eaten at Lupa

view printable recipe

If you make this dish ahead, wait to add the lemon juice until just before serving — the acid can slightly discolor the asparagus a little.

2 bunches (about 1 pound) of asparagus
2 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Slice the asparagus spears on the extreme bias into very, very thin pieces (reserve the asparagus tips for another use.) Blanch the asparagus pieces in boiling salted water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until they’re just bright green and still tender-crisp (you can start tasting them after 30 seconds.) Drain the asparagus then immediately shock the pieces in a bowl filled with cold ice water. Drain the pieces and gently pat dry.

Toss the blanched asparagus pieces with the pecorino, olive oil, lemon juice (if you’re serving immediately — if you’re serving later, wait to add the lemon juice until just before serving.)

Serves 4 generously.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2009 7:30 pm

    I LOVE asparagus. I don’t think I have paired them with cheese though and this sounds fantastic. My market if back for the season TOMORROW so maybe I will luck out and they will have some.

    Cross you fingers for me!

  2. May 5, 2009 8:33 pm

    Hello, Spring! I love how feathery those big bunches of chives look. And this asparagus dish sounds fantastic. Hunting new asparagus recipes is my favorite spring hobby, I think. : )

  3. May 6, 2009 4:39 am

    Wow..what a great site…and recipe. Looking forward to trying it tonight…

  4. May 6, 2009 6:14 am

    Hi Amy this dish looks lovely! I’ve been using grana padana cheese lately as a sub for both pecorino and parmigianno – it’s kind of like the best of both worlds.
    Our market opens this weekend and I am crossing my fingers that there will be some asparagus showing up!!
    I think this recipe has perfect leftover potential – asparagus omelet in the morning – yum!

  5. May 6, 2009 9:19 am

    I haven’t seen asparagus yet at our markets and I’m dying for it to arrive! We eat a ton of it once it is here. This looks like a lovely way to enjoy it.

  6. May 6, 2009 5:04 pm

    Sounds really yummy! (What did you do with the chives??)

  7. May 6, 2009 6:17 pm

    Reminds me of Elise’s (Simply Recipes) method that was the first way I learned to do mine. Except instead of shaved, they’re simply cut. They taste so beautiful with just that bit of Pecorino or Parm-Reg.

    I’ve had asparagus the last two nights though so, um, I think I’ll give it a few days. 😛

  8. May 7, 2009 10:44 am

    Simple and delicious both. I love spring.

  9. May 7, 2009 12:22 pm

    I’ve found that manchego will sub for pecorino passably. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Wish I could have it for lunch right now.

  10. May 7, 2009 2:17 pm

    Bravo. I love the fact that this dish just has a few very simple ingredients. Makes it easy to make and therefore easier to eat and enjoy!

    Casual Kitchen

  11. May 8, 2009 7:02 am

    Whitney – I saw on your blog you were able to find some; enjoy!!

    Kristin – Happy Spring, indeed! I can’t wait to hunt for more this weekend.

    Peggy – thanks!

    sue – what a terrific idea; it would be a perfect omelet filling. And agree w/you on grana padano – we do that sometimes too!

    Dana – thanks!

    Jeannine – thanks; used the chives in a potato salad – coming up soon!

    Melissa – hm, I haven’t seen Elise’s recipe but I’ll have to take a look. Can’t go wrong with asparagus and parm…

    Charlotte – me too!

    Texas Deb – I’ve never tried that combination, but I do love manchego cheese so I’ll have to give it a whirl sometime. You’re right; the texture and taste is somewhat similar…

    Dan – I completely agree! It’s a great dish to whip up on those warm spring days, and would be great for a picnic.

  12. May 8, 2009 10:43 am

    I like how the asparagus is shaved and not the pecorino 🙂 Great recipe. For more delicious asparagus recipes, try:

  13. May 9, 2009 4:10 am

    Now I’ve seen green asparagus and white asparagus, but never purple ones! Your salad looks delicious but have you ever tried eating them raw? They taste a bit like raw pea but is very fresh and crisp. You’ll often catch me nibbling on raw ones while I’m preparing dinner.

  14. Emily permalink
    May 12, 2009 8:16 pm

    Hey Amy —

    Just made this tonight and I think its my new favorite way to eat asparagus! Even without lemon the flavor of the pecorino combined with the great taste and texture of the spears was perfect. Major yum!

  15. May 14, 2009 8:17 am

    That looks wonderful. One of my favourite ways to eat asparagus is sprinkled with fresh grated Parmesan cheese, lemon and butter. I leave them whole. But I love the idea of slicing them the way you did. Will definitely give that presentation a try.

  16. December 2, 2010 11:16 pm

    Good java and a chilly morning on the deck with the k9 reading through some excellent copy, what more can an individual ask for?


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