Parmesan Asparagus Salad is made with a handful of simple ingredients and overflows with flavor. Quick to assemble, this beautiful salad is satisfying and delicious!
This cold asparagus salad with Parmesan has an amazing mix of flavors and textures.
Steamed asparagus and tangy pickled onions offer a slight crunch, and the Parmesan has a nutty, sharp flavor. All surrounded with soft lettuces and a subtly sweet dressing, every bite is a bit different.
Peeling asparagus isn't required, but if the spears are especially thick and/or spiny, peeling them will greatly improve the eating experience.
How to Prepare Asparagus for a Salad
- Trim and peel the asparagus if the stems are thick and/or especially spiny.
- Steam the asparagus just until it's tender.
- Then "shock" it in ice water. This simply means to submerge the asparagus in ice water as soon as it's done cooking. This helps it keep its bright green color and stops the cooking process.
- When it's cool, drain and dry it.
- Cut it into smaller pieces and it's ready for a salad.
(More detailed instructions are below.)
"Shocking" green vegetables after they're steamed or boiled does two important things: it stops the cooking process, and helps maintain the bright green color. It's ideal to do this if the vegetables will be used in a salad.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
- As I said above, it's not a must, but I usually peel the asparagus. With thicker spears, the outer layer can be tough. When the spears are skinny, you don't need to worry about this. And you can save the scraps for this awesome asparagus garnish.
- If you're making this Parmesan asparagus salad at the last minute, you can use thinly sliced red onion or shallots. I love them pickled, but you'll have a tasty salad either way.
- If you'd like to make this a vegan salad, you can omit the cheese and add marinated artichokes or hearts of palm.
- My favorite way to make salad dressing is in a jar. Simply add all of the ingredients, put the lid on, and shake.
Parmesan Asparagus Salad is great as a first course or side dish. You can add a protein, like roasted chicken, and it'll be substantial enough to serve as an entrée.
I hope this asparagus salad is a hit at your house!
More delicious asparagus recipes:
- Vegan Asparagus Soup
- Purple Asparagus Recipe
- Asparagus Aussie Lamb Crostini
- Lemon-Dill White Asparagus
- Roasted Asparagus
Parmesan Asparagus Salad
- 1¼ pound asparagus
- 4 ounces mixed baby greens (about 4 loosely packed cups), washed and dried
- ¾ cup Lime-Pickled Onions (click here for the recipe)* drained
- ¾ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons lime juice, (or pickling juice from the onions)
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1½ teaspoons honey
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Prep asparagus. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set it aside. Cut off the tough bottom portion of the asparagus spears -- this is usually about 3-inches or so. It should actually "snap" off at the right place if you use your hands. Then peel the asparagus and set up a steamer on the stove with water just beneath the rack. Bring the water in the steamer to a boil and place the peeled asparagus spears on the rack and cover. Steam until tender, about 6 minutes, depending on how thick the spears are. (They should not be soft, just tender.)Drain the asparagus and "shock" it by placing it in the bowl of ice-water for about 3 minutes. This will stop it from cooking any further and help to keep the bright color. Drain again and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the spears in half or into bite-sized pieces.
- Combine salad ingredients. In a large mixing or serving bowl, toss the asparagus with the greens, onions and cheese. Set aside.
- Make the dressing. In a small mixing bowl, combine the lime juice with the mustard, honey and salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with the pepper and more salt if necessary. (You can also add all of the ingredients to a small jar and shake.)
- Add dressing and serve. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve at once!
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Love asparagus but shall have to wait about 4-5 months till our early spring. Have rarely seen your thin ones here. I hardly ever peel - just snap them and use, the tough end parts going into vegetable stock. Must look up your pickled shallots - this looks like a salad I truly would enjoy in season !
Thanks so much, Eha. Such a great idea to keep the ends of the stalks for veg stock! 🙂 ~Valentina
Wonderful. I love vegetables as salads. And I think the pickled element is fabulous!
Thanks so much, Mimi! 🙂 ~Valentina
Such a simple yet beautiful dish...a perfect one, I dare say, to kick start the spring!
Yes, kicking off spring. Thank you, Angie. 🙂 ~Valentina
What a wonderful spring salad! And I love using pickled onions---the sharp flavor is definitely dulled, but they add delicious flavor to the mix!
Thanks so much, Liz! 🙂 ~Valentina
Such a beauty of a salad! And pickled onion? Love it! Fresh, tangy, colourful and tasty - what's not to love?! This salad has me all excited for spring, which will be here before we know it. 🙂
Thanks so much, Dawn. Spring is indeed upon us. 🙂 ~Valentina
I can not get enough asparagus this time of year, Valentina! (We literally just finished a lunch of scrambled eggs and steamed asparagus doused in truffle oil.) So trying your beautiful salad this spring is a must! Nutty parmesan cheese is such a wonderful partner to my favorite spring veggie!
Thanks, Marissa, you egg-asparagus lunch sounds SO tasty! 🙂 ~Valentina
John / Kitchen Riffs
I usually peel thick asparagus, too. Thin ones, not so much. This is a lovely dish -- great eye appeal. And I know it has terrific flavor, too. Thanks!
Thanks so much, John. Hope you try it. 🙂 ~Valentina
Welcome Spring ! Although it's still cold here, it is in the air! Great salad indeed!
Thank you, I love how you can feel spring, even while winter lingers. Enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina
Karen (Back Road Journal)
My mother used to put asparagus in salads but she used canned. If only she was alive to have seen what a lovely salad you created.
Awww, Karen, thank you. 🙂 ~Valentina
Lovely, Valentina! I’m hoping this is the first week of asparagus at the market here. It seems late for us, so fingers crossed. I love everything about this — the textures, flavors, and colors are really pulling me in!
Thanks so much, David. Hope asparagus showed up this week in Tucson. Enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina