Spring Asparagus Quinoa Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Spring is here, and that means asparagus! We can’t seem to get enough asparagus this year. I pick up a few bunches every time I go to the grocery store. As much as I love it simply roasted, I’ve discovered how much I love it thinly sliced and barely cooked. The asparagus maintains its beautiful bright green color  and delicious, sweet crunch, just like in this Spring Asparagus Quinoa Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette.

Spring Asparagus Quinoa Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette
Written by: Lindsey Johnson of Cafe Johnsonia

A great thing about this salad, besides being fresh and delicious, is that you can eat it warm, room temperature, or cold. It’s the perfect salad to pop into your lunch bag to take to work or when you’re out running errands and don’t want to hit up fast food for lunch. The different components can be made ahead and assembled at the last minute too, but the leftovers are great the next day too.

I used tarragon for the vinaigrette. It has a nice licorice flavor without being too overwhelming. Tarragon and mustard are a match made in heaven and the honey in the vinaigrette adds just enough sweetness to complement the asparagus. It’s one tasty, healthy salad!

Spring Asparagus Quinoa Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette

How are you eating asparagus this spring?

More Ways to Enjoy Asparagus this Spring:

Asparagus Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Yield: 2-4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

A quick and easy salad made with fresh asparagus and quinoa tossed with a flavorful tarragon-mustard vinaigrette.

Ingredients:

For vinaigrette:
2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
white pepper
pinch garlic powder

For salad:
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 small shallot, halved and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons sliced almonds

Directions:

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients or place in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake. Set aside.
If quinoa is not pre-rinsed, wash well in a fine-mesh colander to remove the bitter outer coating. Drain well. Place quinoa in a 2-quart sauce pan. Add the water, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until water has been absorbed and the quinoa is cooked through. (It will become translucent when it's properly cooked.) Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for a few minutes.
In the meantime, trim off a few inches of the asparagus stems and discard. Thinly slice the asparagus into 1/8- to 1/6-inch rounds. Add the asparagus, shallot, and sliced almonds to the pan of quinoa. The remaining heat will barely cook the asparagus.
Pour some of the vinaigrette over the quinoa and asparagus. Toss to coat. Let stand for a few minutes so it can absorb the vinaigrette. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Add more vinaigrette to taste.

Notes:

You can substitute any whole grain for the quinoa. Couscous would also be delicious.
Leftovers will keep well for 1-2 days in the fridge.
To make ahead, prepare salad and vinaigrette and store separately. Add dressing right before serving.

by Lindsey Johnson

Lindsey Johnson is a freelance writer, recipe developer, food stylist and photographer. She is the author of the food blog, Cafe Johnsonia, where she documents all of the delicious food she makes for the people she loves. Lindsey and her husband, Fred, are the parents of three awesome kids and live in the Mountain West.