This tasty asparagus salad contains lots of goodies, including tomatoes, olives, and onions.
A fresh-tasting and delicious summer side dish, it's also very easy to make, and it's ready in just 20 minutes.
I adore salads in the summer. They are so fresh and easy, and they minimize the need to heat up the oven or slave over a hot stove. I enjoy main-dish salads, but I also like side salads such as this one.
This tasty salad is a summer staple at my house. It's so fresh and flavorful! I like to serve it to guests because I can make it in advance. But I also serve it often to my family.
Why this recipe works
I love asparagus but have always served it warm. I enjoy roasted asparagus and steamed asparagus (or microwave asparagus). The idea of serving it chilled in a salad had never occurred to me until I was served a delicious asparagus salad at a dinner party a few years ago.
It was so good, that even though I never got around to asking the hostess for the recipe, I ended up creating something very similar (my humble additions are sliced olives and a different dressing). It's quickly become a summer staple in our home.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty salad. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Fresh asparagus: Try to find medium-thickness spears. Not the really thick ones, but also not the super-thin ones.
- Cherry tomatoes: Cut them in half. They're easier to eat this way (they tend to slide right off the fork unless you cut them). You can also use chopped regular tomatoes.
- Red onions: Chop them finely - no one wants to bite into a big chunk of raw onion. You can use white or yellow onions, but use half the amount - they tend to be sharper.
- Olives: I like to use black sliced olives, but any type of pitted olives should work, including kalamata olives.
- Olive oil: Extra-virgin olive oil has the best flavor. But if you prefer light and fruity olive oil, that works too.
- Red wine vinegar: White wine vinegar also works, as does fresh lemon juice. I wouldn't recommend using white distilled vinegar, though. It's too acidic.
- Minced garlic: Mince it yourself, or use the stuff that comes in a jar. Both work.
- Dijon mustard: This traditional French mustard is creamier, thicker, and less vinegary than yellow mustard.
- Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the salad could end up too salty.
Making this asparagus salad is easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
- Your first step is to steam the asparagus until tender-crisp. It's important not to overcook it.
- Next, slice the asparagus, then mix it with tomatoes, onions, and olives. Be gentle when mixing.
- Add the tasty dressing and gently toss to coat. That's it! Wasn't that easy?
- Be gentle when mixing the asparagus with the remaining ingredients. The heads of the spears are fragile and can easily disintegrate if you're not careful.
- You can make this salad a couple of hours ahead of time and then chill it until ready to serve.
Frequently asked questions
I don't recommend eating it raw. It's a fibrous vegetable, best enjoyed when lightly cooked. So I recommend you cook it before adding it to a salad.
Yes, absolutely. Cooked and chilled asparagus is delicious, and it makes the perfect addition to any salad. It's also very good as part of an antipasti plate.
Almost. You can eat the stem and the tops, but the woody part at the very bottom of the stem is too tough and fibrous and should be cut off and discarded.
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- Use chopped tomatoes instead of halved cherry tomatoes.
- Use pitted kalamata olives.
- Add a tablespoon of capers.
- Use lemon juice instead of vinegar. Or try balsamic vinegar - just a small amount, since it's so potent.
- Add a dollop of mayonnaise to the dressing for extra creaminess.
Anything goes with this salad! It's a truly versatile side dish. But I think it goes especially well with these main dishes:
While you can make this salad ahead of time, I wouldn't try to store the leftovers for longer than a couple of days. Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge, and gently toss the salad again before serving it.
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- 1 bunch asparagus tough ends trimmed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved (5 oz)
- ¼ cup red onions diced (1 oz)
- ¼ cup sliced black olives
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Steam the asparagus until just tender. Drain it into a serving bowl and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes and the onion. Place the dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk them until they emulsify into a velvety dressing.
- Add the tomatoes, onions, and olives to the serving bowl and gently mix. Then pour the dressing on top and mix again. Be gentle so that the delicate asparagus heads remain intact.
- Serve the salad immediately, or cover and keep it in the fridge until ready to serve. Remove it from the fridge 15 minutes before serving and gently toss again.