Asparagus with Beet-Lemon Dressing

It’s finally spring, and asparagus is abundant. Like many of you as well, I love asparagus. Simply steamed or packed into a savory pie, it’s a lovely vegetable with a punch of flavor.

Asparagus of course works well as a side vegetable, with a little olive oil and salt, but it also lends itself to a dressing or vinaigrette.

I posted on warm leeks with a spicy Creole dressing on the blog. It just shows that just about any vegetable can also be a salad.

For the salad, I decided to use a dressing made with beet juice and lemons. I use beets a lot in my cooking, and when I use canned beets, I always save the beet juice. That way, I can reduce the juice and create a fabulous beet syrup that can be turned into a number of things, like the beet-lemon dressing below.

Asparagus with a Beet and Lemon Dressing

Strained juice from 1 can (15 ounces) of beets, about 1/3 cup
Juice of 1 lemon, strained
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Generous pinch of salt
Few grindings of pepper
1 pound fresh asparagus
1 diced shallot, optional

Place the beet juice in a small pan and begin reducing it over very low heat. It’s best not to leave the kitchen during this process because it can happen quickly towards the end.

When only about 2 tablespoons of the reduced juice remains, remove the syrup from the heat and let it cool.

Whisk in the lemon juice and oil well, then add the salt and pepper.

If you don’t like the look of the syrup separating from the oil, place the mixture in a mini blender. If you prefer it a little creamier, add a 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise or cream, but know it will be pink! Set aside.

Meanwhile, clean the asparagus, which means removing the hard, woody ends. I simply snap off the ends where they snap.

Some people prefer to shave the ends, using a vegetable peeler. There’s really no right or wrong here. When you have a pile of asparagus ends, use them to make asparagus broth using a little onion and garlic, and use that for asparagus soup! It just adds a deeper flavor.

For this asparagus salad, I steamed the asparagus. They can be steamed with any kind of contraption, as long as the asparagus is sitting above water, in the steam, and the pan has a lid. Once the steaming begins, I don’t ever go beyond 5 minutes, but you’ll have to play with this time.

Once cooked, place the warm asparagus on a plate, and add some of the beet-lemon dressing. Sprinkle with some extra salt, if you like.

If you like shallots, sprinkle some on top.

Also, a bit of crumbled goat cheese or chopped toasted walnuts or chopped hard-boiled egg would also be good on this salad. It would make a fabulous first course.

Note: I know some people try to pick out the skinniest of asparagus, thinking that they are more tender, but they all come out of the ground in varying thickness, and are all tender, as long as the weather hasn’t gotten too hot.

37 thoughts on “Asparagus with Beet-Lemon Dressing

    • Thank you Kay! There’s just a wonderfully earthy yet sweet quality to the beet syrup, that adds so much. I love asparagus as well.

  • I love beets, and we cook with them all the time…but I never would have thought of this dressing. I can’t wait to try it now!

    • I also cook them when I find them, but I’ve found that canned beets, like canned beans, are a great, high quality product. Plus you get the juice!

    • It’s such a wonderful vegetable! Had your person already worked on your website when I was able to comment? Or did it miraculously fix itself?

  • I have never thought to use beet juice in that way, it’s a lovely color. Thank you. I actually like the larger spears better than the skinny ones, I think they are more tender. I don’t understand why the smaller ones are more popular. I wonder if the stores have canned beets on the shelves? It’s interesting what is still there and what is sold out.

  • You aren’t going to believe the coincidence, but when I went shopping last, Mark insisted that I buy canned vegetables. I haven’t bought canned vegetables (other than tomatoes) for decades! So I bought beets. Which means I’m going to beet juice. Which means I can make this dish! I love it… The color, brightness, and flavor!

  • What a delicious idea! Never thought to use beet juice to make the vinaigrette with. Sounds amazing!

    • I think it just comes from my years of poordom, where I wasted nothing. But I am fond about reducing just about anything! Cause it really works and comes in handy!

  • I love asparagus! The real revelation to me here, though, the beet juice! What a fantastic use for something that you might without thinking just toss out! I also love the side of boiled egg. Man, what a lovely plate!

  • If there is one universally loved vegetable it seems to be asparagus. Even the fussy eaters in my life, or the “no vegetables for me please” freaks, will eat asparagus. I know people who eat it several times a week. Even when it’s off season, expensive and not that great.

    So now that the fat, young spears are in season here in California, they’ve closed the farmers markets. Your asparagus, with it luscious pink lemon dressing, is starting to look like porn to me! GREG

    • Oh, goodness, I’m so sorry. That’s truly sad. Yes,. I know some kids who eat asparagus! And it really does have a stronger flavor than, say, green beans, so that makes it surprising! I hope you can shop soon… stay safe.

  • I’m not a fan of canned beets, but this looks like it would work well in your dressing. I know that the French approach is to sometimes ‘drown’ the asparagus in a bechamel sauce, but a light dressing like yours sounds good!

    • Well, I love that too… In Germany every other day I ate white asparagus with ham and bechamel. Heavenly. But I like it as a salad as well.

  • Thanks for reminding me its spring Mimi. I’d forgotten with all this chaos going on around us. I’m off to the supermarket queue this morning, hopefully when I get in there might be some asparagus left!! Hope you are well and take care!!

    • Oh I know. And it’s just warming up here where I live. Everything is blooming, but it doesn’t feel spring like. Yet.

    • Gah, it’s trying to be spring here. Maybe in a few days. I did enjoy the first good looking asparagus that showed up. This was before “all of this.”

  • Absolutely must do. We eat a lot of raw beet and lemon salad with apples and this dish is on my list for sure. The only problem I might have is finding fresh asparagus but will do my best next time after waiting in line to get into the market, hoping to find some asparagus. I hope you are all safe dear Mimi ! :-)

    • We are good, thank you. Crazy times, eg?!! Having some trouble getting groceries, but hopefully this will all be over soon.

  • Beets are one of my favorite vegetables and the color is beautiful with asparagus. Such a pretty plate you’ve presented, and love the side of eggs. (The plate itself is so pretty, too!) :-) ~Valentina

    • Yes, antique plates my mother gave me. I’m very careful with them! Beets really are fabulous. I didn’t like them for years because of the dirt flavor! Glad I love them now!

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