Bento filler: Raw Asparagus, Radish and Parmesan salad

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I had never tried raw asparagus until just a couple of weeks ago. I just assumed that aspagarus needed to be cooked. But if you have fresh, tender asparagus, and slice it very thin, it actually makes an excellent and unusual salad. The texture stays crisp for a few hours after making, so it's a great springtime bento side dish. It's paired with thinly sliced radish which adds more crunch, color and a spicy kick, plus small chunks of Parmesan cheese for saltiness and body. A very simple lemon dressing brings it all together.

Recipe: Bento filler: Raw Asparagus, Radish and Parmesan salad

This is inspired by a raw asparagus salad on the Epicurious site, but changed considerably.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups of salad, or 2 to 6 bento-sized servings. Approximately 200 calories for the entire amount.

  • 8 to 12 fresh green asparagus spears, to make 2 cups sliced (see instructions)
  • 4-6 radishes, to make 1/2 cup sliced
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice, plus extra lemon juice and peel
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • black pepper
  • 2 cm / about 1 inch square of Parmesan cheese, crumbled

Make ready a bowl of cold water with a little lemon juice and peel thrown in. (I just squeeze out the lemon juice I need for the dressing, and squeeze some juice and throw the lemon half into the bowl.

Cut or break the hard part of the asparagus stalks off. Cut off the tips and reserve for another dish. Slice the remaining parts of the asparagus stalks very thinly with a sharp knife, or use a vegetable slicer or mandoline. Put the sliced asparagus in the lemon-water; this prevents the asparagus from turning brown.

Slice the radishes very thinly also.

Drain the asparagus very well and pat dry with paper towels. Put in a bowl with the radish slices, add the rest of the ingredients except for the cheese, and stir around well to combine. Taste, and add a little more lemon juice or salt if you think it needs it (but remember that the cheese will add more saltiness). Add the crumbled cheese.

This salad can be made the night before you need it, though it's best made in the morning.