I don’t turn the oven on very much in the summer 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, and when I saw a recipe for Asparagus and Chicken Salad with Buttermilk Dressing in a recent issue of Food Network Magazine, I thought it would be fun to veganize. I swapped the chicken for chickpeas, made a few other changes, and made my own vegan buttermilk dressing.
I remember thinking that the word “buttermilk” sounded so tasty when I was younger. I loved both butter and milk, so together they must form something that tasted like creamy heaven. I imaged that it must have tasted like a glass of liquid ice cream. It wasn’t something my mom every bought, but I was so curious to try it. One day when I was about 13, I was babysitting, and the children’s mom told me to help myself to anything in the refrigerator to snack on. I noticed a liter of buttermilk in the fridge, so I poured myself a glass, expecting a cold creamy treat. What I tasted, however, was a sour, lumpy disgusting glass of ick. I spit it out, poured out the rest of the glass, and rinsed my mouth with water a few times. I had been mislead by a word that sounded so tasty.
While I’m not exactly sure what goes into dairy buttermilk, and I honestly don’t want to know, I can assure you that vegan “buttermilk” isn’t nearly as vile. It’s 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.
The vegan buttermilk dressing is the real star of this salad, but the asparagus, chickpeas, almonds, and feta all play key roles. If you aren’t up for making your own tofu feta, any zesty non-dairy cheese will do. This Asparagus and Chickpea Salad with Vegan Buttermilk Dressing makes perfect summertime meal on it’s own, but it’s also an excellent side dish for grilled portobello or eggplant sandwiches.
Asparagus and Chickpea Salad with Vegan Buttermilk Dressing
- For the Dressing
- ¾ cup non-dairy 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, chopped, loosely packed
- ¼ cup fresh chives, chopped, loosely packed
- For the Salad
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 head green leaf lettuce, chopped
- 1 bunch watercress, stems removed
- 1 head radicchio, sliced
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 14-ounce can, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- ½ cup vegan feta, or your favorite vegan cheese
- 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 almonds, parsley and feta, and then drizzle on the rest of the dressing.
- Divide among 4 plates and serve.
If you enjoyed this Asparagus and Chickpea Salad with Vegan Buttermilk Dressing, you might also like:
- Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing
- Roasted Carrots with Green Goddess Dressing
- Grilled Wedge Salad
- Vegan Kale Caesar Salad with Cider Carrots