Buttermilk Asparagus Salad Recipe

Simple side - asparagus tossed with a garlicky buttermilk dressing, perky radish sprouts, lots of fresh cilantro, and a handful of cooked posole.

Buttermilk Asparagus Salad

Sometimes I open the refrigerator, the star's align, angels sing, and I end up with something off-beat and special. No special trip to the store, and no over-thinking ingredient or flavor combinations. I like putting ingredients together in ways I've never tried before, and sometimes having limited choices is exactly the nudge I need in that direction. I think that's what happened here. I made this simple side dish the other night using everything on the left-hand, bottom shelf. It's asparagus tossed with a garlicky buttermilk dressing, perky radish sprouts, lots of fresh cilantro, and a handful of cooked posole. I had posole on hand, but beans (chickpeas?), farro, orzo, or toasted nuts would be an easy swap if you don't.

Buttermilk Asparagus SaladButtermilk Asparagus Salad

I should also mention its the sort of thing you can prep nearly 100% ahead of time. You can make the dressing a day or two prior to using. And you can cook, chill, dry, and refrigerate the asparagus in advance as well. A few snips of sprouts and some cilantro, and you're all set.

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Buttermilk Asparagus Salad

I use posole here, but understand not many of you keep it (cooked) on hand. I imagine (cooked) beans, farro, or orzo would be good substitutions!

buttermilk dressing:
1 medium clove garlic
scant teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup / 240 ml buttermilk
1/4 cup / 60 ml good-quality white wine vinegar
1/4 cup / 60 ml extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-Inch segments
1 large handful of cooked posole / hominy (see head notes)
a big handful of chopped cilantro
a big handful of sprouts (I used radish sprouts here)

To make the dressing, combine the garlic and salt on a cutting board. Mash into a paste using the flat side of your knife. Place in a medium bowl or jar, then add the buttermilk and vinegar. Whisk together, then gradually whisk in the olive oil. Let sit while you make the rest of the components.

You can saute or steam the asparagus. I used a simple basket steamer over a bit of water in a skillet. It might be easier for you to do a "steam-saute"....Start with a cold skillet. Add 1/4 cup / 60 ml water, a splash of olive oil, and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, add the asparagus, cover, cooking until the asparagus is just tender and bright in color, barely a minute. In either case, drain, then transfer to a cold water bath to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Just before you're ready to serve the salad, combine the asparagus, posole, cilantro, and sprouts in a large bowl. Coat generously with a splash of the buttermilk dressing, and toss well before serving. You'll likely have a bit of leftover dressing which can be used on vegetables, noodles, salads, and grains.

Serves 4-6.

Prep time: 7 minutes - Cook time: 5 minutes

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Just made this for lunch. Yummy. I used quinoa and substituted grated radish for the sprouts since my grocer didn’t have any.
One question, the dressing was delicious, but very thin. Did I do something wrong?


I made this and it was so good. I couldn’t find posole or farro (my second choice) so used Israeli couscous. My ratio was more couscous to asparagus than your recipe but what a winner. The buttermilk vinaigrette is amazing (I used all of it!) and my daughters have already begged me to make it again. Packed beautifully for school lunches.


I love the challenge of making a meal with whatever’s in the fridge. I’ve discovered some great combinations that way. This salad looks great. I’ll have to swap out some of the ingredients, but you’ve inspired me with the asparagus and cilantro!


Wouldn’t cubed cooked yellow potato stand in we’ll for the posole?


A work of art! This salad is so spring!
Thank you for sharing.


A work of art! This salad is so spring!
Thank you for sharing.


I’m wondering if some chopped fresh herbs in the dressing wouldn’t add a special touch? What would you suggest?


I added chopped walnuts and substituted Greek yogurt for buttermilk, it turned out great. Thanks for the inspiration!


I love this site! I’m trying to eat healthier, but have had to make substitutions in many recipes I see because I (and my fiance) cannot eat raw garlic/onions. Cooked is fine. This is usually easy to overcome… garlic powder or granules seem to work for most dressings, etc. (or hummus)… the onions I leave out or use a little powder to overcome. I can’t help but think I’m missing a major flavor, but it’s better than nothing! The one ingredient I’m having a problem overcoming is cilantro. My fiance can’t have that at all. What are some good/viable substitutes? Especially when it’s so much of the recipe? I’ve done parsley. I’ve heard basil is okay. But it’s hard to know how to get the same flavor… does anyone have good suggestions for a cilantro substitute when it’s a larger part of the recipe? Or should I just not try and create that particular meal? (because it wouldn’t be that great without cilantro?)


This looks lovely, I can’t get enough of green things in salads and the UK asparagus season is about to hit. I did wonder if there was some way of working the whey (a happy by-product of all the labneh I’ve been devouring, the best thing ever, thanks to your last post, Heidi!) into the salad dressing as as substitute for buttermilk or is it too tart?


Thank you for an awesome recipe. My 4 year old loved it. Used pea sprouts, baby spinach, asparagus and toasted pine nuts with the buttermilk dressing. Yum!


I love asparagus, unfortunately the season here in the netherlands has not quite started yet. But I am so looking forward to trying this.
I have a question though, do you grow your own sprouts? I’ve tried to grow radish sprouts, as we can’t get them in the shops here, but they never look quite as good as yours.

Ole @cookingbrains

Just in time for picnic season.


Thank you Heidi.

mary tinat

@Reena; THX a lot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ich hatte keine Ahnung und wusste auch nicht, wo ich es nachschlagen sollte. Sonnige _Grüsse aus München, Claudia


Hi Heidi – I tried the salad. Yum! I had never had hominy before. I got it from a can. I don’t know if it’s better from dried or not. You’ll have to let us know in one of your posts. I used pea shoots instead of radish shoots because I’d never heard of that. But, everything was delicious! Thanks so much. You’re changing my body one meal at a time.


Curious if you can suggest an alternative to buttermilk for those of us who are dairy-free… I know it would need something with fatty depths but coconut milk would likely be too overpowering. Any ideas?

Alice Dishes

Orzo is not barley – it is a small pasta shaped like rice.
Instead of using soy milk (bland & very unhealthy) or coconut milk (too sweet I suspect), have you thought of full fat yoghurt, stirred so it thins out? Or kefir?
I am going to try this with soaked walnuts instead of the grain/carb.


Lovely looking salad! Love hominy too!


Sound tasty and interesting here in cockfield Bishop Auckland we just don’t have these ingredients readily available. Sure to be greeted with puzzled faces asking for them in local Coop.


I think those angels were singing a spring anthem. Looks wonderful. Asparagus is something the whole family gets excited about so I will try it. Buttermilk is misunderstood and maybe poorly named. We use it often here especially for baking and people are often surprised when I tell them that it is low-fat.


The asparagus season has just started last Wednesday in my geographic zone.
Have a good weekend!

La Torontoise

I’m gonna try the recipe for the dressing with my homemade kefir, and I have lots of canned hominy too. . . I get so stuck on just plain pan-grilled asparagus with drizzles of flaxseed oil and white sesame seeds and sea salt. . so this will be a refreshing change for one of my favorite veggies! You are always a lovely inspiration!

Norma P

love when dinner comes together like this- easy and delicious

dixya@food, pleasure, and health

*eyes the canned hominy* I’m not good at that whole dried bean thing…I don’t imagine I’d be much better wtih dried corn. Looks yummy tho’!


@ Claudia:
Orzo = (griech.) Kritharaki-Nudeln = Reisnudeln – Nudeln, die wie Reiskörner aussehen
Farro ist nicht so eindeutig = Dinkel = Emmer (Weizenart) = Dinkelweizen
Der ital. Farro-Salat schein auf jeden Fall ein Dinkelsalat zu sein
Ich hoffe, ich konnte etwas Licht ins Dunkel bringen 🙂


“Farro” would be like spelt or “Dinkel” and “Orzo” is barley or “Gerste”. Hope that helps!


you know, I don’t think I’ve ever had posole at all before–let alone posole in a green salad! Super interesting. And who doesn’t want to cram all the asparagus possible into their mouths before the season ends? 🙂


I appreciate the link to Rancho Gordo for spectacular beans,corn products and spices. Best resource ever!!!


Any way I can figure out to get more asparagus down my throat this time of year is a good thing. This looks absolutely perfect & fresh.

Gina @ Running to the Kitchen

Fabulous. Thanks Heidi.

Kelly Turnbull

I buy posole or hominy in a can. Yes, it is very easy to make but sometimes one needs timesavers. This looks fantastic and a wonderful use of what’s on hand. And thank goodness, I have it on hand!

Abbe@This is How I Cook

Mmm… the same thing happened here last night when we added ground walnuts to vegan mushroom ragu. It added such a lovely dimension to the sauce! This salad looks so snappy and fresh. Good thoughts on an unexpected combo. Yum.


My favorite way to cook…I love it when the stars align. Looks lovely.


Your opening lines are brilliant. I feel the same way about cooking up things from leftovers. It forces me to be creative and sometimes the most ingenious things come out. Very inspiring! For once I will just stay put and not run out to get something that I think I’m missing!

Aleksandra Peyrer-Navijalic

This sounds lovely, but I have never come across hominy here in the UK. Which other grain would you recommend – barley perhaps?

Natalie Harris

My mom went on a posole kick when I was a little girl, but it’s been years since I’ve had it, let alone alone think about it. Methinks it’s time to revisit it, because this combination looks so fresh and flavorful!

Rachael (Fuji Mama)

Just picked up some organic asparagus (a rarity, I find) and have been wondering what to do with the posole in the pantry. Thank you!

Lia Huber

It looks amazing, I can’t wait to do it myself. Farro is not easy to fin here, but maybe replace it with barley? Thanks for sharing!

Clara P

For those asking about buttermilk, just make your own! Use 1 Tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup, then fill the rest of the cup with milk, stir, and presto! buttermilk. It would probably work just as well for goat’s milk as cow’s milk.


Always learn something wonderful from you. This time, Posole. I’m going to ask my Mexican friends if I can find it here in Paris.


Looks to me like canned hominy would work here in a pinch, though of course fresh-cooked Anson Mills would be preferred . . . another good reason to keep a can in the pantry for emergencies! I will be trying this out this weekend. Thanks!

Jim Dillon

That asparagus looks so beautiful! This looks great Heidi, I can’t wait to try it.

Sarah G

This recipe has me craving a salad at 7am. I love when inspiration hits and works out so well, with only the ingredients on hand!


Do you have a standard method for cooking your hominy? I’ve tried several, and while they taste fine they look like a piece of popcorn exploded versus the dainty little guys in your beautiful pics 😉

HS: Hi Darian – nothing particularly special going on here. I soak the posole/hominy overnight (at least), and then simmer it until many of the kernels have popped. I salt about 1/3 of the way through, but I suspect you could salt from the start.


It looks fresh and delicious, and I love the idea of a buttermilk dressing.


This looks so fresh and tasty!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

Actually, the only reason I don’t keep cooked posole around is that it had never occurred to me that there might be uses for it other than in soup! Now my mind is going crazy with ideas for it…a deconstructed cheesy grit bowl? Seared over high heat with a limey dipping sauce? mmmm


Love the look and sound of this one Heidi. I agree, sometimes the best dishes come out of just a few simple ingredients xx

Emma Galloway

I just finally realized that hominy is not something to be afraid of. I put it in a stew. It was awesome. This is next.

LisaR @ Who Stole My Baby?

This sounds wonderful! I think some sunflower seeds would be great in here, too.


i first thought those white nubbins were barley, and now can’t shake that notion. i think it would be lovely here. maybe lentils? tiny white beans. later, green beans, steamed and chilled.
i agree, heidi, this has all the hallmarks of a great salad: flexibility, verve, snap, flavor, and yum. thank you, refrigerator angels!


I love when you use Tex-Mex ingredients! I never thought I’d see hominy on your site. I’m excited to try this!


This is such a lovely salad! I love anything with hominy!

Marie @ Little Kitchie

You’re like freaking Wonder Woman. xo.

Bev @ Bev Cooks

That looks wonderful! I just made a asparagus dish myself, it’s awesome the season of this great vegetable just started!
I’d love to make this salad!

Mirjam Leslie-Pringle

So pretty, as always!
I wonder how goat milk would go for the dressing, instead of buttermilk? Hmmm….

Amanda @ Easy Peasy Organic

what a great salad!

Simply Life

Hi Heidi thanks for this nice recipe, I love the combination of flavours here. Just a question: what would you suggest me to use instead of buttermilk? It’s not quite common here in Italy. Do you think a light cream would do instead? or should I swap it with something else? Thanks, Roberta

HS: Can you get coconut milk Roberta? Or good, plain soy milk – both are goof substitutions.


Sounds like magic to me!

Belinda @zomppa

A lovely and delicate looking salad!


Hi all,
any german speaking folks around? The words ” Farro” and “Orzo” do not show up in my dictionary and I would like to know the german equivalent. I know “posole” though….Can anybody help? Cheers, Claudia


Buttermilk can do no wrong and I bet it’s perfect here! Such a pretty spring-time salad. I just love asparagus and bought some more today, actually!

Averie @ Averie Cooks

Love asparagus and now that we’re entering season for them I should be able to get my hands on some locally grown and organic at the farmers’ market.
I’m still struggling with posole a bit but I guess it’s more of an acquired taste, meaning that I have to keep trying!


I can’t wait for asparagus season here in the UK. This looks like a great salad. I love it when you can create something wonderful out of the simplest ingredients. 🙂


This sounds heavenly. I have yet to try cooking hominy, I suppose I should get on that soon.


Just wondering about what you are calling posole. I have only heard that called hominy. Do people also call that posole? Posole is a Mexican soup that has hominy in it.

HS: Hi Olga – it’s called both here, posole / hominy. Here’s a link to the dried posole I use.


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