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This easy chopped salad recipe showcases asparagus front and center, pairing it with pine nuts, parmesan, fresh herbs, and a garlicky lemon dressing.

top view of healthy asparagus salad on white plate

If you’re looking for a light, refreshing salad or side dish that’s full of bright flavors, this salad is it. It’s perfect for spring or summer!

In this recipe, asparagus adds a grassy, earthy flavor, toasted pine nuts lend crunch, parmesan cheese gives savory depth, and fresh herbs brighten everything up. And for the real icing on the cake (ahem, I mean, the dressing on the salad!), we whip up a simple lemon garlic salad dressing that marries everything together.

Serve this as part of a summer barbecue along with anything you can cook on the grill. Pack it up for a picnic along with sandwiches or finger foods. Or add protein (such as chicken or steak) and serve it on its own as a light meal.

close up top view of chopped asparagus salad on plate with pine nuts and parm

Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

simple asparagus salad ingredients

Garlic Lemon Salad Dressing Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil – Olive oil and lemon juice provide the base for our simple salad dressing.
  • Lemon juice – Make sure to use fresh lemon juice here! Skip the store-bought juice in the squeeze bottle, and juice the lemon right before using; otherwise, it tends to turn bitter.
  • Lemon zest – Fresh lemon zest contains this citrus fruit’s essential oils, and really bumps up the lemon flavor without adding to the acidity.
  • Honey – Honey adds a sweet, subtly floral flavor and helps create a well-rounded profile.
  • Salt and black pepper – These pantry-staple seasonings add a ton of flavor to this salad.
  • Garlic – Use fresh garlic for the best flavor! If you don’t have garlic on hand, you can add 1/4 cup of thinly sliced shallot to this salad.

Raw Asparagus Salad Ingredients

  • Pine nuts – Make sure to toast the pine nuts to develop their nutty flavor. And feel free to swap out the pine nuts for another type of seed or nut, such as walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.
  • Asparagus – This is the star of the show! Asparagus is a late spring/early summer vegetable, and if you can get your hands on fresh, local asparagus you’ll be rewarded with the sweetest flavor and most tender texture.
  • Italian parsley leaves – I like to use flat-leaf Italian parsley instead of curly parsley because of its stronger, more vibrant flavor.
  • Basil leaves – Fresh basil adds bright flavor with notes of licorice, pepper, and mint.
  • Freshly-shaved Parmesan cheese – Parmesan adds a savory, umami depth of flavor and creamy texture to this salad.

Instructions

how to make raw asparagus salad
  1. Add the pine nuts to a small dry skillet over medium-low to low heat and toast until they start to turn golden and smell nutty, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool.
  2. Add all of the dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Clean, trim, and chop the asparagus.
  4. Add the asparagus, cooled pine nuts, parsley, basil, and parmesan to a large salad bowl. Drizzle on the dressing, and gently toss to combine.

Storage

You can prepare most of this recipe ahead of time, but wait to toss everything together until right before you want to eat the salad. Here’s a timeframe:

  • Make the salad dressing and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge up to 4 days ahead of time. When you want to use it, let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before whisking so that the oil can soften.
  • Clean and chop the asparagus up to 3 days before you want to eat it. To store it, place a paper towel in the bottom of a glass container, put the asparagus into the container, cover the dish, and pop it in the fridge.
  • Toast the pine nuts up to 1 week in advance. After they’re toasted, let them cool to room temperature, and then keep them in an airtight container at room temperature.
hand holding fork in asparagus salad

Tips

  • You don’t have to make your own salad dressing; in a time crunch, store-bought salad dressing is fine! Just make sure to use a dressing with a bold, yet balanced flavor.
  • I like to leave the herb leaves whole because it looks gorgeous and they don’t wilt as fast. However, for less intensely herbaceous flavor, chiffonade the herbs right before serving.
  • Make this light salad into a full summer dinner! To do so, add any type of protein you like (such as grilled steak, leftover chicken, white beans, etc.) and crusty bread (or paleo bread or keto bread).

Special Diet Friendly

As written, this recipe is gluten free and low carb.

To reduce the carbs even more to make it keto friendly, use keto honey or your favorite keto sweetener instead of regular honey. For the paleo version, omit the parmesan cheese.

front view of fresh green salad on white plate

Asparagus Salad Recipe FAQs

Can You Eat Raw Asparagus?

Yes! Asparagus is loaded with nutrition and safe to eat raw or cooked. Just make sure to wash your asparagus before chopping it.


If you’re wondering how to properly wash produce before eating it, the FDA says “Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before preparing and/or eating, including produce grown at home or bought from a grocery store or farmers’ market…After washing, dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present on the surface.”


The FDA doesn’t recommend commercial produce washes for a variety of reasons. But there is another (food safe, yet effective) solution! If you want to take it one step further, you could briefly soak your asparagus in a vinegar or baking soda solution.


To clean asparagus with a vinegar solution, you’ll need 1 part vinegar (I typically use either distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar) and 3 parts water.


For example, put 1 cup of distilled white vinegar and 3 cups of cool filtered water in a large bowl. Add the asparagus (before cutting it), and let it sit for 2 minutes, lightly swooshing it around with your fingers occasionally. After that, rinse the asparagus well under cool running water, dry it off, and it’s good to go!


On the other hand, if you want to clean asparagus with a baking soda solution, add 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 4 cups of cool filtered water to a large bowl. It’s the same method as using a vinegar solution: add the asparagus, let it soak for 2 minutes (swooshing occasionally), and then rinse the vegetable well and dry it off.

Is Asparagus Better Thick or Thin?

This is a raw salad, so for the sweetest flavor and best texture look for thin, crisp asparagus spears.


When you’re selecting asparagus, look for thin stalks that snap well and aren’t limp.

Is it Better to Snap or Cut Asparagus?

Asparagus is generally woody and fibrous at the bottom of each spear, so most people trim off this part.


To snap asparagus, hold one spear in both your hands. Bend it so that it breaks at its natural break point. After that, line up the snapped spear with the rest of the asparagus bunch and cut across. Alternatively, you can snap each spear individually.


However, note that the bend-and-snap method can result in a lot more waste than just cutting your asparagus spears to trim them.


If you want to retain more of the vegetable, another option is to trim off just the very bottom of each spear. After that, you can choose if you want to use a vegetable peeler to shave the bottom couple inches of each spear where the vegetable starts to get woody.

How Do You Cut Asparagus for Salad?


This is a matter of personal preference. You can use a vegetable peeler to thinly shave asparagus into ribbons for salad, or chop it into slices. Another option is to thinly slice the spears on the diagonal.

More Refreshing Spring and Summer Salad Recipes

close up of plate with green salad

Let’s Connect

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Asparagus Salad Recipe

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
This easy salad recipe showcases asparagus front and center, pairing it with pine nuts, parmesan, fresh herbs, and a garlicky lemon dressing.

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Ingredients
 

Dressing:

Salad:

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 pound asparagus cleaned, woody bottom part trimmed, and thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly-shaved parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • For the dressing, add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
  • For the salad, add the pine nuts to a small dry skillet over medium-low to low heat and toast until they start to turn golden and smell nutty, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool.
  • Add the asparagus, cooled pine nuts, parsley, basil, and parmesan to a large salad bowl. Drizzle on the dressing, and gently toss to combine.
  • Serve immediately.

Video

Notes

  • Net Carbs: 6g per serving
  • Lower Carb/Keto Version: To reduce the carbs even more to make it keto friendly, use keto honey or your favorite keto sweetener instead of regular honey.
  • Paleo Version: Omit the parmesan cheese.
  • The Herbs: I like to leave the herb leaves whole because it looks gorgeous and they don’t wilt as fast. However, for less intensely herbaceous flavor, chiffonade the herbs right before serving. Also, if you’re sensitive to the anise-like flavor of basil, you may want to reduce the amount by half.

Nutrition

Calories: 199kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 353mg | Potassium: 350mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1748IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 195mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Asparagus Salad, Asparagus Salad Recipe, Raw Asparagus Salad

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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