By Karin Calloway

Karin Calloway is a working mom living in Augusta, Ga., with multiple freelance jobs and a ton of dirty dishes.

Warm Asparagus Salad with Country Ham Vinaigrette

I’m always on the lookout for new ways to serve asparagus. I’ve grilled it, oven-roasted it, and of course, I’ve steamed it. My recipe for Warm Asparagus Salad takes your standard steamed asparagus to new heights as a first course with a warm Country Ham Vinaigrette.

The recipe is wonderful for entertaining, as the asparagus and the vinaigrette can be prepared ahead and set aside before plating and serving. Just re-warm the vinaigrette and spoon it over the room temperature asparagus for a delicious salad course.

The vinaigrette reminds me of the dressing for my Great Aunt Margaret’s Wilted Lettuce Salad, and also would be good tossed with fresh spinach or mixed greens. While it calls for two tablespoons of bacon drippings, feel free to omit the drippings if you haven’t fried any bacon recently. And, regular smoked ham can replace the country ham if you live in a part of the country where country ham isn’t readily available.

  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 ounces finely diced country ham or smoked ham
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, optional
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a saucepan fitted with a steamer. Add asparagus, cover with a tight-fitting lid and steam for 3 minutes, until barely crisp tender. Remove and set aside. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add ham and cook until golden brown. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.

Divide the asparagus among 4 salad plates and top with the vinaigrette.

Makes 4 first course servings.