Shaved Asparagus Salad with Candied Kumquats

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Nothing quite marks the start of Spring in Northern California as asparagus arriving at the farmers market. Our favorite way to eat these beauties is thinly shaved ribbons served raw as a salad. My first time eating asparagus in this way was at NOPA a San Francisco restaurant. Long ribbons of raw asparagus, served with crispy bacon, a perfectly poached egg and candied kumquats. I've recreated this salad every season. 

This salad is simple as is the technique. It works best with thick asparagus at its peak in early Spring when they are crisp and sweet.  All that is needed is a sharp vegetable peeler, some kumquats, a lemon, a wedge of parmesan and a few pantry staples. If you want to get really fancy, you can add toasted buttered breadcrumbs and some crispy bacon as well. 

1/2 cup sugar

A handful or two of kumquats (about 8 oz.) 

1 bunch of thick asparagus

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil

A chunk of parmigiano reggiano for shaving

1. To make candied kumquats, bring sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil. Meanwhile, slice kumquats into 4 slices and add to syrup once boiling.  Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, remove slices to a plate. Strain and reserve simple syrup for cocktails (how fancy!). 

2. Snap off tough end of the asparagus. Slice each stalk lengthwise into paper-thin ribbons using a sharp vegetable peeler.

3. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste to make a vinaigrette.

4. Place asparagus ribbons in a bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper. Drizzle with dressing. Top with candied kumquats (and crispy bacon and breadcrumbs if using). 

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