May is the peak of the short white asparagus season in Germany and we try to eat as much of it as possible. This weekend my mother and I were cooking together and we decided to use white asparagus in a salad, combining it with black beluga lentils. These lentils are perfect for salads; they cook quickly but keep their firm texture and with their mild flavor they don’t overpower the other ingredients. Of course green asparagus would work just as well in this recipe. And you could add an egg to give it even more substance.
Ingredients (for two portions):
100 grams of beluga lentils
Four to six asparagus spears
Two handfuls of arugula
One carrot, peeled and finely diced
One bay leaf
One clove of garlic, chopped
Two tablespoons olive oil
One tablespoon lemon juice
Two teaspoons of butter (or vegetable oil)
Salt and pepper
Wash the lentils, cover them with water in a small pot and bring to a boil, together with the bay leaf, the chopped garlic and half of the diced carrot. Season with a pinch of salt and some pepper. Let the lentils simmer for about ten to fifteen minutes or until done.
Meanwhile, peel the asparagus (if using white asparagus) and remove the tough bottom parts. Melt some butter or oil in a skillet. Add the asparagus and cook for about ten minutes, turning every few minutes to ensure even cooking. Add a little salt and pepper when they are done (best to test this with a knife).
Wash the arugula and arrange it on the plates. When the lentils are ready, strain them, reserving two or three teaspoons of the cooking water. For the dressing, mix this cooking liquid with the olive oil and lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste.
Spread the lentils over the arugula. Carefully cut the asparagus on the diagonal in about one inch slices and add them to the salad. Sprinkle with the diced fresh carrots for color and add the dressing. Enjoy!