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Diana Henry's asparagus, broad bean and cured ham salad with heather honey dressing

Diana Henry / 20 May 2014

Just what is a salad? Pretty much anything you want – as long as it includes fresh leaves. Diana Henry celebrates the variety and imagination of modern salad making.

Bunch of asparagus
You can use pretty much anything in a salad as long as it includes fresh leaves

Cooking time

30 minutes




  • 6-8 small waxy potatoes (depends on your appetite)
  • 125g asparagus (fine stems rather than fat)
  • 125g  broad beans (shelled weight)
  • 50g salad leaves - a mixture of lambs’ lettuce, watercress and baby spinach is good, or just choose one type
  • 4-6 thin slices cured ham, such as Parma ham, torn into broad shreds

For the dressing

  • 3/4 tbs white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp heather honey
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbs extra virgin olive oil (use a light fruity one, not a big Tuscan bruiser)


You can substitute French beans for some of the asparagus or broad beans.


I cook asparagus in a covered asparagus pan (only because somebody gave me one) with the stems standing in a little water and the tips in the steam. If you have your own way then stick to that - just make sure they are not floppy.

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender then drain. These are good just warm so you can just leave them in the warm saucepan in which they were cooked (covered).

To make the dressing just whisk everything together until you have broken the honey down. Taste for balance and seasoning.

Cook the broad beans in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain them into a sieve and run cold water over them. When they’re cool enough to handle slip off the skins (laborious, but it does make the dish look lovely).

Trim the ends of the asparagus (they can be woody) and cook until al dente, about 4 minutes. The stalks should feel tender when you pierce them with the point of a knife.

Slice the potatoes (not too thinly or they will fall apart). Put the vegetables into a bowl with the salad leaves and and gently toss with most of the vinaigrette, (keep a little back for drizzling at the end). Divide between 2 plates, adding the shreds of ham to the leaves, and finish off with the rest of the vinaigrette. Grind some black pepper over the top and serve immediately.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.