Just one bite and you'll be hooked on this gourmet-style raw asparagus salad with pecans. Thinly sliced asparagus mingles with toasted walnuts and parmesan cheese, all dressed in a sweet, tangy red wine vinaigrette. It has all the texture and flavor you could ever want in a salad. Plus, it's vegetarian, keto friendly and gluten free, so it fills you up without weighing you down. Perfect for spring and summer months, as a side dish or a complete meal.
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for raw asparagus salad, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Walnuts: We use raw walnuts and toast them ourselves but you can buy toasted walnuts if you prefer.
- Asparagus: Choose a fresh asparagus that's medium to thick. The super thin asparagus won't work as well for this recipe.
- Parmesan cheese: We prefer to grate our own but you can buy pre-grated if you're in a time crunch.
- Lemon: This recipe calls for lemon juice and zest.
- Olive oil: You can also use avocado oil.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is always best but if you buy minced garlic that will work as well.
- Crushed red pepper flakes: Buy these in the spice aisle.
- Sea salt and pepper
If a raw asparagus salad with pecans isn't quite right for you here are some variations you might enjoy.
Swap nuts: Almonds, hazelnuts, or pine nuts for a slightly different flavor.
Swap cheeses: No Parmesan? No problem! Try crumbled feta or goat cheese. Or you can omit the cheese entirely.
Increase the heat: Add more red pepper flakes for a spicier flavor
Add fruit: Consider adding chunks of apple or pear for a touch of sweetness.
This section shows how to cook raw asparagus salad, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique. For full instructions, nutritional information, to print the recipe or to have the recipe scaled to double or triple, see the recipe card below.
PREP INGREDIENTS: Toast walnuts in a large skillet over medium-low heat, tossing occasionally, until toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside. Remove the woody ends from the asparagus, cut into thin slices at a sharp angle, and add to a large salad bowl.
🔴 TIP: Cutting the asparagus into slim slices can take time but the asparagus will absorb the flavors and be tastier this way.
PREP DRESSING: In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
DRESS THE SALAD: Pour dressing over the asparagus and toss to coat. Then, chill for an hour to combine flavors.
🔴 TIP: Don't skip the chill. This allows the flavors to combine well and soak into the asparagus.
HOW TO MAKE AHEAD
This salad is best the day it is made; however, you can cut and store the asparagus spears in the fridge in an air-tight container 24 hours ahead of time. You can also store toasted walnuts and the combined dressing in the refrigerator in air-tight containers.
Shortly before you are planning to serve your salad, slice and dress the asparagus and then chill in the fridge, according to recipe. Then remove from the fridge, top with nuts and cheese, and serve.
TIPS FOR THE BEST RAW ASPARAGUS SALAD
Follow these tips to make the best raw asparagus salad:
✔️ Cut the asparagus into thin slices at a steep diagonal. These thin slices of asparagus are delicious and crisp when raw.
✔️ Toast the walnuts to bring out the flavor. Chop after toasting.
✔️ Allow the salad to chill for an hour. This really enhances the flavor.
✔️ Top with chopped nuts and cheese. They contribute more flavor and protein to the dish.
Refrigerate: Store this raw salad in the fridge in an air-tight container for no more than 24 hours.
Freeze: Freezing is not recommended.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH A RAW SALAD
MORE SALAD RECIPES
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
For perfect results every time, here are answers to the most common questions about preparing and making raw asparagus salad.
The most important thing for safe slicing is ensuring you have a sharp chopping knife, and work slowly and carefully. Slice one spear at a time, holding it with curled finger tips. Using your knife, make thin slices into your asparagus at a steep angle, rocking the blade from front to back and taking care to keep space between your fingers and the blade. Reposition your fingers as you go, as needed. The more you practice, the more confident you will become.
Asparagus can be eaten raw, and this recipe is a great introduction to raw asparagus if you haven't tried it before. It is full of crunchy texture and vibrant flavor. The thin, diagonal slices make it easy to crunch.
If you don't have any walnuts, then almonds, pine nuts or hazelnuts are good alternatives. Or, you can leave the nuts out altogether.
If you don't have fresh parmesan cheese to grate into your salad, consider using crumbled feta or goat cheese.
Set your pan to a medium heat and place walnuts in a single layer in the pan. Periodically, toss the walnuts in the pan so they flip, allowing different sides of the walnuts to contact the heat and toast up.
Alternately, you can place your walnuts in a toaster oven or full size oven on a baking sheet at 350ºF for 2 minutes at a time. It should only take a few minutes to toast them. Keep a close eye on your walnuts to keep them from burning.
This salad is best eaten the day that it is made. The asparagus will wilt over time If you have left-overs, you can store then in the fridge in an air-tight container for 24 hours.
- ½ cup walnuts
- 1 pound asparagus - tough ends trimmed
- ½ cup parmesan cheese - grated
- 1 zest from one lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice - fresh squeezed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- Add walnuts to a large skillet over medium-low heat. Toss occasionally for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the salad, until toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool while you make and chill the salad.
- Remove the woody ends from the asparagus. Cut the asparagus into thin slices at a sharp angle. Add to a large salad bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Pour dressing over the asparagus. Toss to coat. Chill for an hour to combine flavors.
- Chop walnuts on a cutting board roughly. Sprinkle walnuts and grated parmesan over salad.
- Cut the asparagus into thin slices at a steep diagonal. These thin slices of asparagus are delicious and crisp when raw. Cutting the asparagus into slim slices helps it absorb the flavors and be tastier this way.
- Toast the walnuts to bring out the flavor. Chop after toasting.
- Allow the salad to chill for an hour. This really enhances the flavor.
- Top with chopped nuts and cheese for added flavor and protein.