Roasted asparagus highlights this fresh and light asparagus salad with simple ingredients dressed in an oil-free champagne vinaigrette dressing. Asparagus salad tastes like summer in a bowl.
I shop for the freshest ingredients whenever the farmers' markets fill with farm-fresh produce. 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.
How to Select Asparagus
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 from April through July.
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 many 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 the cooking time accordingly.
- Orzo: Orzo is a type of pasta that looks like rice but is actually pasta made from a whole grain
- Asparagus: You don't eat the bottom end of asparagus because it's tough, bitter, and stringy, making it unpleasant to eat. Therefore, it's recommended to discard this part before cooking, and you eat the spears and tips only.
- Green onions: Green onions (also known as scallions) are long and thin, typically no wider than a finger, and are bright white at the bottom with dark green tops. They taste different than most onions as they're mild, and not very pungent.
- Grape tomatoes (or tomatoes of choice): I just love tomatoes! Bite-sized, beautiful, and full of flavor, grape tomatoes have a thicker skin and are less watery.
- Parsely: its robust "green" flavor is delicious raw in salads and brings a fresh taste to other ingredients.
- Kalamata Olives: the flavor profile of kalamata olives is rich, fruity, meaty
- Lemon: Nothing tastes better than fresh citrus with asparagus and the other ingredients in this asparagus salad recipe.
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:
- Choose another grain such as Quinoa, farro, barley, or brown rice instead of orzo pasta.
- I chose whole-grain orzo, but there is also gluten-free orzo available at the store.
- Add greens to the asparagus salad, such as kale, Romaine lettuce, or spinach.
- Choose red onion instead of scallions for a sweeter taste or yellow onion for a stronger onion taste..
- Replacing the parsley with basil is also a wonderful flavor for this salad recipe.
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, champagne vinaigrette tastes mild in flavor and acidity, making a light and fresh dressing. Of course, another bonus is the four simple ingredients:
- Champagne Vinegar: champagne vinaigrette tastes mild in flavor and acidity, making a light and fresh dressing.
- Maple Syrup offers a healthy sweetness and replaces sugar in recipes.
- Dijon Mustard: I love dijon musttard. Its tanginess cuts the acid in the vinegar.
- Water: I always use water as a replacement for oil. It thins the dressing and acts as a balancing agent in dressings.
- White wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or sherry vinegar are often used as substitutes for champagne vinegar.
- Date syrup or agave nectar are often used instead of maple syrup in recipes.
- Stone ground mustard is the closest substitution if you don't have dijon mustard
Begin by roasting the asparagus. Instead of using oil, I washed and tossed the asparagus in fresh lemon juice and sprinkled it with garlic powder and onion powder. Another tip for 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 completely cool before adding to the asparagus salad ingredients.
Even though orzo looks like rice, it is rice-shaped pasta. Traditional orzo is not gluten-free, but gluten-free orzo is available and works well with this recipe. For instance, Dellalo makes 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 most of the salad's work is 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.
Then dress the salad in advance and refrigerate until ready to serve. Therefore, the dressing acts as a marinade for the vegetables and orzo, which helps enhance the flavors as it chills.
You'll throw away more asparagus if you snap off the ends, and the spears won't look as long and elegant. For many reasons, I think trimming is a much better approach.
Be wary of any recipe that instructs you to peel asparagus before cooking it. Not only is it labor-intensive, but it's also really not necessary.
The best way to trim asparagus is also the most obvious way: with a chef's knife and cutting board. Line up all of the spears in a row and slice off the ends all at once. You should cut right where the stalks turn from white into the green.
- Cut the ends off the asparagus, and then cut them into the same sized pieces, so they roast at the same rate.
- Toss in lemon juice for an additional freshness while cooking. This also makes it easier for seasoning to stick to the asparagus when cooking.
- For the fresh, longer-lasting tomatoes, keep them at room temperature, rather than refrigerate them after purchasing them.
- Serve as an entree salad or a side salad.
- This salad is great for a pot-luck dinner or a summer barbeque party!
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, I served asparagus salad on a bed of live lettuce.
If you love fresh in-season vegetables, give this asparagus salad recipe a try.
Suggested Salads for Summer
If you love this asparagus salad recipe, please give it a 5-star review below!
- 1 pound asparagus ends removed, washed, and cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ lemon, squeezed or 1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 8 ounces whole grain orzo pasta cooked according to package directions, rinsed and cooled
- 1 cup grape tomatoes cut in halves (or tomatoes of choice)
- 5 green onions sliced thin
- ¼ cup kalamata olives, sliced
- ½ cup fresh parsley chopped
- ¼ cup champagne vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons Maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons water
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper
- Wash and cut off the tough ends of asparagus
- Cut asparagus into similar bite-sized pieces.
- Toss asparagus with ½ a lemon in a bowl
- Place asparagus on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer.
- Sprinkle with garlic and onion powder.
- Cook for 15 minutes
- Remove asparagus from the oven and allow it to cool completely before adding to the salad.
How to Cook Orzo
- Cook orzo according to the package directions
- Remove from heat and drain the pasta in a colander, rinsing with cold water until pasta is cooled. Shake excess water from the colander.
- Once cooled, pour the orzo into a bowl
- Champagne Dressing
Making the Champagne Vinegar Dressing
- Add all ingredients to a measuring cup.
- Whisk together
- Keep refrigerated until ready to dress the salad.
Making the Asparagus Salad
- Pour cooled orzo into a bowl.
- Add all the other ingredients, including cooled roasted asparagus.
- Pour the dressing over the salad.
- Toss and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Choose gluten-free orzo for a gluten-free option.
- Remove the tough ends of the asparagus with a knife rather than breaking off the ends.
- Cut the asparagus into equal-sized pieces, so it roasts at the same rate in the oven.
- Tossing the asparagus in lemon juice allows the seasoning to stick to the asparagus while cooking.
- If using thin asparagus, adjust the cooking time to 7 minutes instead of 15 minutes for thicker spears.
- Rinse the orzo in cold water in a colander until cooled. Then shake the colander to remove any excess water before adding to the bowl.
- Dress the salad in advance, so the flavors enhance in the refrigerator while chilling.
- Serve as a side salad, entree salad, or add green for a more nutrient-dense salad option.
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂