Whenever the farmers’ markets fill with farm-fresh produce, I shop for the freshest ingredients. And, nothing tastes better than fresh asparagus from the market! With warm weather, comes beautiful vibrant vegetables and fresh salads. One of my favorite vegetables is asparagus, so I decided to make a roasted asparagus salad recipe.
Although asparagus is available all year long, spring is the best season to buy asparagus. Not only is asparagus fresh in the spring, but it’s also inexpensive in April and May.
When choosing asparagus at the store, look for firm, straight and smooth stalks. Asparagus, however, comes in four sizes: small, standard, large, and jumbo. In my experience, the thinner the asparagus, the more flavorful and fresh it is. With that being said, I know a lot of people who prefer a thicker stem and less flavor. For that reason, choose whichever thickness you prefer.
Keep in mind, though, that my cooking instructions apply to a thinner stalk of asparagus, so adjust accordingly.
WHAT VEGETABLES ARE INCLUDED IN ASPARAGUS SALAD?
- Green onions
- Tri-colored grape tomatoes (or tomatoes of choice)
PREPARING ASPARAGUS FOR ROASTED ASPARAGUS SALAD
Instead of using oil, I washed and tossed the asparagus in fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with garlic powder and onion powder. Another tip to roasting without oil is to use a silicone baking mat.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
- Roasted for 15 minutes
- Remove asparagus from the oven and all to completely cool before adding to the asparagus salad ingredients.
HOW TO COOK ORZO FOR ASPARAGUS SALAD
Even though orzo looks like rice, it is actually a rice-shaped pasta. Traditional orzo is not gluten-free, but gluten-free orzo is currently available and works well with this recipe. For instance, Dellalo makes a gluten-free, corn, and rice orzo, which is fabulous. For this asparagus salad recipe, though, I used regular orzo, because I already had a bag in my pantry.
Unlike other pasta, orzo cooks incredibly fast (8 minutes), so the majority of the work for this salad is in chopping the vegetables and preparing the quick and easy dressing.
Another helpful hint is to make sure you run cold water through the cooked orzo to stop cooking since the asparagus salad is served cold. But, if you prefer a warm salad, serve immediately.
Once the orzo and asparagus cool, add all the ingredients to a large bowl. Because of the types of ingredients in asparagus salad, dress the salad in advance, and refrigerated until ready to serve.
INSTEAD OF ORZO, CHOOSE AN ALTERNATIVE GRAIN OR GREENS!
If you don’t like orzo, don’t let that stop you. Additionally, I like making asparagus salad using a variety of other grains and replacing the orzo with:
- Brown Rice
- Romaine lettuce
Furthermore, I toss the salad in the dressing before refrigerating, so the dressing brings the flavors together like a marinade.
OIL-FREE CHAMPAGNE VINAIGRETTE DRESSING FOR ASPARAGUS SALAD
Once I make a new salad recipe, I think about dressing first. For me, salad is all about the dressing! Over time, I quickly learned to create oil-free dressings I love. For instance, oil-free champagne vinaigrette tastes mild in flavor and acidity, which makes a light and fresh dressing. Of course, another bonus is the four simple ingredients:
- Champagne vinegar
- Maple Syrup
- Dijon Mustard
Furthermore, I suggest eating asparagus salad on its own or adding more greens for a more nutrient-dense salad. For this particular version of asparagus salad, for instance, I served asparagus salad on a bed of live lettuce.
LOOKING FOR GREAT SPRING AND SUMMER SALAD IDEAS TO MIX IT UP?
- Spinach Pasta Salad
- Roasted Vegetable Salad
- Skinny Watermelon Salsa
- Potato Salad
- Greek Orzo Salad
- Macaroni Salad
- Spinach Strawberry Salad
- Grilled Caesar Salad
- Tabouli Salad
- Mediterranean Couscous Salad
- Quinoa Salad