What you are looking at is a spinach and roasted asparagus salad tossed in a tasty lemon tahini dressing. Okay, for some this may sound like an odd combination, but it works. It really works! The inspiration from this salad stemmed from 1) a peek inside my fridge I remembered that I bought some first class white asparagus from the market. And for a whopping 8€ for 500 g, I wasn’t about to let it go to waste. 2) I also had some fresh organic baby spinach to use. The dilemma… what amazingly tasty meal could I create out of these two things?
My essential guide to culinary creativity with plant-based foods
Which brought me to picking up my handy vegetarian flavor bible. I adore this book and use it often. What I hadn’t imagined is that asparagus and tahini go well together. And there it was on that long list of complimentary flavors to asparagus. Okay, makes sense. Tahini is a dream with cauliflower, why would it not work with white asparagus? It does! and perfectly so. So do I number of grains and pseudo grains — just like quinoa.
A roasted asparagus salad inspired by one of my favorite cauliflower recipes
The inspiration for this salad came from one of my favorite cauliflower salads – a roasted cauliflower and millet salad in a lemon tahini sauce. It’s delicious. So in the case, I chose to roast the white asparagus. OMG it tastes so good roasted! And then I tossed it with quinoa, baby spinach… and a little red onion, for color and well, cause I love simply love onions (and garlic). Plus let’s not forget how good they are for you. Actually everything in this salad is simply good for you!
To roast the asparagus:
500 g white asparagus, peeled, trimmed and cut on a bias in bite-sized pieces
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the salad:
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa (100 g)
4 handfuls baby spinach (about 100 g), stems trimmed if needed
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (25 g)
For the tahini lemon dressing:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (60 ml)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
1 clove of garlic, minced
pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
sea salt, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400˚ F / 200°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Rinse the uncooked quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Place in a medium saucepan and cook according to package instructions, for about 15 minutes. Once most of the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy, remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and let stand for another 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, place the asparagus pieces on the prepared sheet tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss until asparagus is well coasted. Place in the preheated oven and roast until asparagus is tender and lightly browning, about 15-20 minutes (cooking time depends on the thickness of the spears. If you like your white asparagus quite tender then bake for an additional 5 minutes).
4. While asparagus is roasting, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet and set aside.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, tahini and garlic until well combined. Season with a pinch of cayenne and salt, to taste.
6. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, quinoa, parsley and red onion. Add the roasted asparagus and drizzle the dressing over the salad. Toss until the salad is combined and well coated with the dressing. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and serve.
7. Dig in and enjoy!