I’ve spent the past week making not-so-great food choices. Especially considering I have a dress to squeeze myself into on a date that seems to just be getting closer and closer.

The week before World Expo opened, all of Shanghai went into hyperdrive. We were supposed to have Friday through Tuesday off – a public holiday – but instead, I was working 13 hour days, even over the holiday. Ordinarily, I don’t let myself fall into the slump of ordering in dinners, because I always feel like it’s a missed opportunity – an opportunity to unwind in the kitchen, to spend some quality time with Walker away from LCD screens, and to keep the contents of my fridge from turning into a brown unidentifiable slump.

But recently, I’d caved. Dinners right before bedtime, and forgetting breakfast in the mornings before work. Hardly good habits.

In part to make up for all these bad habits, and in part because I happened to have all these ingredients sitting around in the fridge, this salad started to look like a really great idea. And you know what? It was.

In the words of one overworked, underpaid food critic, “This is so good it almost tastes like pasta!” Yeah, I’m not sure either. But it was incredibly tasty, crunchy, and perfect for an early evening dinner on the first warm night in Shanghai.

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Oranges and Pecorino
Adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients

1 large bunch of thick asparagus (2 pounds), trimmed
One 1 1/2-ounce piece of Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar (I used pomegranate champagne vinegar, because that’s what I had on hand)
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse pink salt and freshly ground pepper
1 navel orange
2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Preparation

1.  In the bottom of the bowl you’ll be using, combine orange juice, vinegar, orange zest and olive oil, whisking until emulsified. Season with pepper.

2.  Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus lengthwise. Shave the Pecorino Romano cheese into the bowl.

3.  Using a sharp knife, peel the orange, removing all of the bitter white pith. Working over a small bowl, cut in between the membranes to release the sections. Add the orange sections to the asparagus. Mound the salad on a large platter, garnish with the hazelnuts, sprinkle with coarse pink salt and serve.

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