Asparagus & Gingered Grapefruit Salad

1 large bunch medium spears asparagus
4-5 pink grapefruits, segmented
1 cup Ginger-Lime Glaze
1-1/4 cups Asian Vinaigrette
3 scallions (whites only), thinly sliced at an angle
1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds (substitute half with black sesame seeds, if you like)

Snap off the tough bottom part of each asparagus. Bring a pot of water large enough to hold all the asparagus to a boil, add the asparagus and blanch 3 minutes. Drain and rinse immediately under cold running water. Set aside. Segment the grapefruits. Put the grapefruit sections into a bowl and cover with the ginger-lime glaze. Keep refrigerated.

Assemble the salad: arrange the asparagus in an attractive shallow serving platter or bowl and cover it with a cup or so of the Asian vinaigrette. Let the asparagus soak in the dressing for a couple of minutes. Arrange the grapefruit sections on each side of the asparagus, fanning them out. Drizzle with a bit more vinaigrette, sprinkle the sliced scallions over the asparagus and sprinkle some of the sesame seeds over the whole salad. Serves 6-8.

Ginger-Lime Glaze
3/4 cup roughly chopped or sliced and smashed fresh ginger (from about 6 oz. ginger)
Grated zest of 4 small or 3 large limes
3/4 cup tarragon vinegar
3/4 cup natural cane sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes to infuse the flavors. Bring back to a boil and repeat the process. Bring back to a boil for a third time, let cool to room temperature, strain through a coarse sieve, cover, and refrigerate. Yields scant 1 cup.

Note: This glaze gives the grapefruit a gingery kick in the salad, but it lasts indefinitely and makes a great base for iced or hot tea. It’s also terrific with seltzer water (use about 1/4-cup glaze to 1 cup seltzer and serve cold), so feel free to double the recipe.

Asian Vinaigrette
This dressing will last for several weeks, covered, in the refrigerator, so you may want to double the amounts, and use the extra on grilled shrimp, seared steak, or warm salads.
3 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1-1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbs. dry sherry
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup fish sauce (also called nuoc mam)
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. honey
A few dashes hot sauce or chile sauce (optional)
1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup safflower or canola oil

Combine all the ingredients, except for the sesame oil and peanut oil, in a bowl. Whisk in each oil one at a time. Yields 1-1/4 cups.

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