This salad is a great way to celebrate spring and the arrival of the first Island asparagus. Once you’ve prepped the ingredients, grilling takes only 10 minutes. One tip: Don’t dress the slaw until right before serving. A few seared scallops, a piece of striper, or even a small serving of sushi rice could easily sneak on to the plate with this too.

Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed, gills scraped out with a spoon
  • 3/4 pound thin asparagus, trimmed (about 32 to 36 thin spears, or 8 or 9 per salad)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups sliced napa cabbage (use mostly leafy tops)
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus 4 sprigs for garnish if desired
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

1. In a glass liquid measure, combine 1/4 cup peanut oil, rice wine, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. Whisk well and transfer 3 tablespoons of mixture to a separate small bowl. Put portobello caps, stem side-up, in a shallow 9-by-13-inch baking dish and pour remaining marinade into four caps (drizzle a little around top edges as well). Let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Stack mushroom caps to one side of dish and add asparagus spears to it. Season asparagus with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and roll spears around in any marinade that has dripped off the mushrooms (tilt mushroom caps and pour some residual marinade over asparagus). Add up to 2 teaspoons peanut oil to make sure spears are well-coated; rub bottoms of mushroom caps with some marinade/oil as well.

3. Preheat gas grill on medium-high. Arrange portobello caps, stem side up, on grill grates. Cover and cook until very well-browned or marked on the bottoms, 5 to 8 minutes. There should be a lot of liquid in the cups, and it should be simmering (this helps cook the stubborn insides of the mushroom!). Carefully turn caps over with tongs (liquid will spill out so beware of flare-ups) and cook until edges are browned, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer mushrooms to a cutting board and let cool for a minute or two. Slice thinly on the bias, keeping slices of each mushroom together.

4. Arrange asparagus on grill (you can cook these along with mushrooms if you like). Cover and cook until nicely marked on the bottom, about 1 to 2 minutes. Using tongs, carefully turn over asparagus, a few at a time (keep them at an angle to the grate), cover, and cook until other side is just marked, about 1 minute. (Do not overcook; they will still be bright green.) Transfer asparagus to a tray or plate.

5. In a mixing bowl, combine napa cabbage, baby spinach, half the scallions, and half the cilantro. To reserved marinade, add lime juice, sugar, and remaining 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Whisk well. Spoon all but about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dressing over napa-spinach mixture and toss well to coat thoroughly.

6. Arrange 4 rectangular or oval plates (white is nice) on your counter. Divide slaw mixture evenly among the plates, arranging it as a bed for the veggies. Arrange one-quarter of asparagus spears across each bed of slaw (a diagonal angle looks pretty), and then arrange one sliced mushroom over each salad in a similar pattern, so that asparagus spears and mushroom slices cover the bed of slaw. Drizzle remaining dressing over salads, and sprinkle with remaining scallions and cilantro and toasted sesame seeds. Garnish with a cilantro sprig if desired. Serve right away and savor the flavors of springtime.

This recipe was originally published with the article, Scrumptious Salads Fresh Off the Grill.