Chickpea and Asparagus Salad is the perfect meal for summer. Serve this cold salad for lunch or a light dinner. It's loaded with fresh greens, tofu feta, and toasted walnuts. The creamy dairy-free buttermilk dressing will have you coming back for more! This easy to make recipe is vegan and gluten free.
Chickpea and Asparagus Salad
I don’t turn the oven on very much in the warm weather months. Instead I make meals out of giant salads, or Dennis and I grill veggies outside. I don’t want to eat the same things over and over again, so I’m always on the hunt for new salad ideas.
When I came across a recipe for Asparagus and Chicken Salad with Buttermilk Dressing in an issue of Food Network Magazine a few years ago, I thought it would be fun to veganize. Chickpeas were swapped for the chicken, a few other tweaks were made, and everything was topped off with homemade vegan buttermilk dressing.
The vegan buttermilk dressing is the real star of this salad, but the asparagus, chickpeas, walnuts, and feta all play key roles.
What You Need
- Almond milk or soy milk
- Apple cider vinegar
- Raw cashews
- Lemon juice
- Dijon mustard
- Sea salt
- Fresh parsley
- Fresh chives
- Green leaf lettuce
- Toasted walnuts
- Vegan feta
See the recipe card for exact amounts.
How to Toast Walnuts
Toasting the walnuts really brings out their flavor. You can toast them in a dry pan on the stove over medium heat. Simply stir them occasionally. Or you can pop them in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes.
It’s important to keep an eye on them however you cook them, though, as they can go from almost-done to super-burnt in a matter of seconds. I know this from lots of experience!
How to make Chickpea and Asparagus Salad
This recipe is easy to make!
- First you mix together the apple cider vinegar and almond milk and let sit for 10 minutes. It will curdle, which is what you want.
- Then you mix the curdled milk, cashews, mustard, garlic, and salt together in a food processor or high-speed blender until smooth and creamy. Add the parsley and chives and pulse a couple times to combine. I like to use my Blendtec‘s Twister Jar.
- Next you blanch the asparagus. Prepare a large bowl with ice water and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 to 4 minutes (depending on its thickness), until it's bright green. Remove the asparagus pieces from the pot with tongs or a skimmer, and immediately transfer them to the ice water bowl. Let them sit in the ice water for a minute. Drain them and pat them dry.
- Finally, you assemble the salad. Add the lettuce, watercress, radicchio, asparagus and chickpeas to a large bowl. Then add about half of the dressing, and toss to coat. Top the salad with the almonds, parsley and feta, and then drizzle on the rest of the dressing.
Vegan Buttermilk Dressing
Vegan buttermilk just simply non-dairy milk that has been soured with the help of a little apple cider vinegar. (It’s actually known as clabbering.) I wouldn’t drink a glass of it on it’s own, but it’s perfect for making tender baked goods, fluffy pancakes, and tangy dressings.
To make this dressing, you must use either almond milk or soy milk. The protein found in other milks won't curdle properly. Add apple cider vinegar and let it sit for 10 minutes. It'll curdle, which is what you want.
As with all of my other cashew-based dressings, I recommend using raw cashews in this recipe. They’re softer and have a milder flavor than the roasted variety.
I have a Blendtec, but I soak my cashews for about 2 hours before making dressings like this anyway to help soften them. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, make sure you soak your cashews longer to help them blend easier.
Serving Your Salad
This salad makes perfect summertime meal on it’s own, but it’s also an excellent side dish for grilled veggies, veggie burgers, or tofu sandwiches.
- I use my tofu feta in this recipe. If you don't feel like making your own, Violife has a dairy-free feta. So does Follow Your Heart.
- Instead of walnuts, you can use toasted pistachios, almonds, or sunflower seeds.
- Any type of green leafies can be used in the place of watercress.
- Shredded purple cabbage can be used instead of radicchio.
Chickpea and Asparagus Salad with Vegan Buttermilk Dressing
For the Dressing
- ¾ cup almond milk or soy milk
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked for two hours, rinse and drained
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, loosely packed chopped
- ¼ cup fresh chives, loosely packed chopped
For the Salad
- 1 bunch asparagus trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1 head green leaf lettuce chopped (about 6 cups)
- 1 bunch watercress stems removed (about 1 cup)
- 1 head radicchio sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts toasted
- ¼ cup parsley chopped
- ½ cup vegan feta
Make the Dressing
- Mix together the apple cider vinegar and non-dairy milk, and let sit for 10 minutes. It will curdle, which is what you want.
- Mix the curdled milk, cashews, mustard, garlic, and salt together in a food processor or high-speed blender until smooth and creamy. Add the parsley and chives and pulse a couple times to combine.
Blanch the Asparagus
- Prepare a large bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 to 4 minutes (depending on thickness), until bright green. Remove the asparagus pieces from the pot with tongs or a skimmer, and immediately transfer them to the ice water bowl. Let them sit in the ice water for a minute. Drain and pat dry.
Assemble the Salad
- Add the lettuce, watercress, radicchio, asparagus and chickpeas to a large bowl. Add about half of the dressing, and toss to coat. Top with the walnuts, parsley and feta, and then drizzle on the rest of the dressing.
- Divide among 4 plates and serve.
More Salads Made with Chickpeas Include
- Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing
- Avocado and Chickpea Salad
- Asian-Inspired Spicy Chickpea and Cabbage Salad
- Chickpea Waldorf Salad
Oh, that dressing! New staple in my kitchen!
I hope you enjoy it, JL!
I agree with J.L.--making this now (soaking the cashews as I write). It sounds like just the right combination, and I will be able to use the parsley and chives growing in a container on my deck. Thanks!
I hope you like it, Gina!
Kindred spirits, Gina! I have chives growing on my deck, too! Urban gardening for the win! 🙂