This colorful and light asparagus salad includes crisp romaine and radishes and is tossed with a creamy lemon-chia dressing. Bright and tangy, this simple salad comes together in 20 minutes and is a perfect complement to any meal. Gluten-free, oil-free and vegan.
*This recipe was originally published in April 2019, and has been updated for improved content and instructions.
Well, friends, it's the middle of April, so it's no mystery where the inspiration for this recipe came from. Asparagus season is upon us! And though we're big fans of roasted asparagus, I wanted to use this beautiful spring vegetable in a different and fresh way.
Paired with beautiful Easter egg radishes, this salad couldn't be more perfect for springtime.
The base of this salad is very simple - lettuce, asparagus, and radishes. The crunch of fresh romaine is always nice, but feel free to substitute your favorite lettuce or whatever looks the freshest.
When purchasing asparagus, look for stalks that are richly green and firm to the touch. The tips should look perky, and definitely pass on bunches that look wrinkly or droopy.
Easter egg radishes are often easy to find in stores and at farmers markets around the same time asparagus is plentiful. Feel free to use any variety of radish you enjoy, like pink, violet, cherry belle, or watermelon.
The dressing calls for 7 simple ingredients (plus salt and pepper). If you don't have a high speed blender like a Vitamix, you may want to substitute cashew butter or almond butter for the raw cashews called for in the recipe.
Why You'll Love This Lemon-Chia Dressing
I think you're going to love this healthy, WFPB (whole-food, plant-based) chia dressing. The lemon juice brings bright acidity plus a touch of sweetness, while the salt, nutritional yeast, garlic, and cashews round out the flavor and give it a savory edge.
Aside from being delicious, this dressing is also nutritious! You know how sometimes you want to douse your salad in a rich and creamy dressing, but you don't necessarily want to eat loads of oil and calories? Well, Lemon-Chia Dressing to the rescue! With no oil in sight, this creamy yet light salad dressing is automatically healthier than most. And then...
Chia seeds provide plant-based Omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein and fiber. Cashews introduce a little more creaminess and also provide healthy, whole-food plant fats, fiber and protein.
Fresh lemon juice is rich in vitamin C, which helps our bodies absorb iron. And then there's the clove of garlic! I mean, you really can't fault this dressing for anything (unless, of course, you have a cashew allergy, in which case you can substitute your favorite seed or silken tofu).
In fact, if you like a LOT of dressing on your salads, you may want to go ahead and double the batch! Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the dressing stays fresh for up to 3 days.
Tips and Substitutions
On the topic of salad dressing flavors, I find them to be very subjective. Have you noticed that? Some of us prefer more acid and some of us less. Some of us love sweet dressings, while others are team savory all the way.
So feel free to play around with this lemon/chia/cashew base because it truly is versatile. You can tweak the acidity, sweetness, and saltiness to your heart's content and get it just right for your taste buds.
I really love lemon and wanted that to remain dominant, while the garlic and salt + maple and sweet flavors balance each other for the most part. I encourage you to taste as you go, and keep in mind that even the tiniest changes in ingredients can transform a salad dressing from one you're on the fence about to one you absolutely love.
Oh, and here's another tip: after this dressing chills in the fridge for an hour or two it gets even better.
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I hope you enjoy this quick and fresh Asparagus Salad With Lemon-Chia Dressing. If you try it I would love to hear from you in the comments below, and let us know what you paired with your salad.
Asparagus Salad With Lemon-Chia Dressing (Oil-Free)
For the dressing:
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about two lemons)
- 1 small clove garlic
- 2 teaspoons champagne or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple or agave syrup
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- ¼ cup raw cashews - If not using a high speed blender, sub 2 Tbsp raw cashew butter or soak nuts overnight.
- ½ cup water
- 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- black pepper
For the salad:
- 1 large head romaine lettuce, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 bunch asparagus, about 16 spears, tough ends trimmed or snapped off
- 5 or 6 radishes, thinly sliced
- Violife vegan parmesan, optional - For oil-free option, sub Vegan Cheesy Sprinkle or Vegan Feta (recipes linked in Notes).
- To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Prepare an ice bath large enough to hold all of the asparagus spears. Fill a large saute pan with about 1 inch of water, and place over high heat. Once boiling, carefully add the asparagus. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about 2 minutes, or until fork tender (time will depend on the thickness of the spears).
- Use a slotted spoon to immediately transfer the asparagus to the ice bath to stop the cooking. Swirl the water around to quickly cool the asparagus. Place a lint-free towel on a plate and transfer the asparagus to the plate. Refrigerate while you prepare the salad.
- Combine the romaine and radishes in a serving bowl. Pat the asparagus dry, and cut it into pieces about 1 to 1 ½ inches long. Toss with the romaine and radishes. Serve with lemon-chia dressing and vegan parmesan, if desired.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.