Triple A Summer Salad combines a lot of my favorite ingredients, but especially the “A”s: arugula, asparagus and artichoke hearts. The asparagus is sautéed to al dente, with a soft outer bite but still slightly crunchy insides. I add the artichoke hearts cold from the refrigerator. The arugula (along with the rest of the salad) is tossed in a delicious dressing, with crushed nuts and small pasta.
This is a nice large salad you can make for entertaining. Using an entire 5-ounce bag of arugula, this salad fills a large mixing bowl. At my house, we serve 5 large meal salads from this recipe, which would be 10 small dinner side salads. If you make it for a small household, you’ll be so glad there are leftovers for the next day.
On its own, the dressing has a flavor that is a little bit strong, at least to me. But I initially knew the flavor would be lighter after being tossed with the salad, so I took the risk. Once the salad is tossed, the flavors are diffused (and infused) and they all blend perfectly. This is the perfect dressing for this salad. Trust me on this one.
When sautéing the asparagus, I cook mine until it is just starting to get soft on the outside, so that I can push it down a little bit with a spatula. You want it to be a little crispy still on the inside. I only added olive oil, salt and pepper to the asparagus as it cooked, but it becomes so flavorful! I’ve used this method again for other recipes, and I have to stop myself from eating all the asparagus while standing at the stove. It’s that yummy.
This salad should keep for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator, covered. When I first serve it, I keep the dressing in the fridge, but separate from the salad, letting them both get good and chilled. Then I toss the dressing in just before serving. This would be great for taking it along on a picnic or summer get together, if you can keep it chilled.
If using cashews or another nut that needs crushed, just place the nuts into a sandwich size freezer bag and mash them by hitting with the flat side of a meat mallet. You can use the bottom of a small saucepan, too, if you don’t have a mallet. You don’t want the nuts to be in tiny pieces, but around 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch.
I like using ditalini when I don’t want the pasta to overpower the dish. Ditalini pasta is like macaroni, only if macaroni were cut into small slices. This is a great little pasta for adding to soup. If you don’t have ditalini or can’t find it in a store, just substitute macaroni.
If you prefer, you can use 1/2 cup of olive oil rather than 1/4 cup, in the dressing. But I’ve always preferred a 1:1 ratio with my oils and acids. In this recipe the oil, vinegar and lemon juice are balanced. Some people prefer more of an olive oil flavor. For that add a little bit more oil.
If you have a favorite vegan parmesan cheeze, it will work in this recipe. I like to use my own homemade vegan parm, which I always have on hand. It’s delicious!