asparagus salad in white bowl with blue background
Salads and Side Dishes

Grilled Asparagus Salad with Cilantro Dressing

This grilled asparagus salad with cilantro dressing is the perfect embodiment of spring! Tender grilled asparagus, sweet bell peppers, chewy pearl couscous tossed in an herby, tart dressing. Yum!

I especially love this time of year. The weather is beautiful, perfect for grilling and not overheating near the flame. The produce coming in is vibrant and full of flavor. Is there a better way to enjoy both than with a simple grilled salad? The abundance of skinny asparagus spears on sale sparks a strong need to bust open the grill. I love the way the tips get a little crunchy as they get kissed by the leaping flames. Similiarly, cilantro was also super cheap, probably due to Cinco de Mayo coming up, but who am I to refuse cilantro? I’m not one of the unfortunate souls who tastes soap instead of the vibrant herby goodness.

This dressing is inspired by the perfect cilantro vinaigrette from What’s Gaby Cooking. I made my own adjustments, including using lime instead of all vinegar, and adding a little cumin to enhance the smokiness from the grilled vegetables. However, It’s such a basic recipe, it’s easy to put your own spin on it. If you have extra dressing left over, it goes great on meats, leafy based salads, or a stand in at taco night. But who am I kidding? It’ll go great on pretty much anything, feel free to make a double batch!

asparagus salad in white bowl with spoon on blue background and jar in background

 

I found a bag of pearl couscous grain blend in the cupboard to use, but I’m 100% convinced farro, barley, or orzo would make a great substitute. If you choose a smaller grain, like quinoa, the amount of dressing you need may vary. Pair this with a nice slab of grilled halloumi or half an avocado to keep it vegetarian or vegan. It will power you through lunch or make a great light dinner with a glass of cider.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for grilled asparagus salad with cilantro dressing. It’s such a versatile, simple side dish, I know I’ll be making it all spring and summer long. Please leave a comment and tell me your favorite easy springtime salads.

 

Grilled Asparagus Salad with Cilantro Dressing

Smoky grilled asparagus, sweet bell peppers and chewy couscous are married with an herby tart dressing
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword salad, side dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • 1 pound asparagus trimmed
  • 1 each red bell pepper
  • 8 oz pearl couscous

For the Dressing

  • 2 cup cilantro
  • 1 each scallion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar of choice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

Instructions

For the Salad

  • Preheat the grill.
  • Wash and trim the woody ends of the asparagus. Toss the asparagus and bell pepper in olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill the pepper and asparagus until slightly charred and starting to soften. Set aside to cool.
  • Cook the pearl couscous according to the package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.

For the Dressing

  • Wash the cilantro and scallion and roughly chop. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and run until smooth. Alternatively, use a blender, but place the chunkiest items in the bottom. 

Assembly

  • Cut the cooled asparagus and bell pepper into bite sized pieces. Toss the vegetables, pearl couscous and half of the dressing together. Add salt and pepper, to taste. 
  • Serve with the remaining dressing. As the salad sits it will absorb the dressing, and the flavor will dull, so adding extra at serving will boost the flavor.

Notes

The dressing is a great way to use cilantro stems. They're packed with the same flavor, and the food processor or blender will break down any woody texture.
Is cilantro not your thing? Substitute with an equal amount of basil, parsley or mix of the two.

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