Asparagus & Chicken Salad With Sesame Ginger Dressing
Yield: 4 servings
This light yet filling spin on the typical chicken salad includes a hearty dose of vegetables and a versatile vinaigrette instead of mayo. Elegant and easy with prep-ahead options. 

For the sesame ginger dressing:

  • 1 medium shallot, finely diced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon grated or minced fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) rice vinegar (not the seasoned kind)
  • 1½ tablespoons (30g) honey (could sub packed brown sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  •  A pinch (1/16 teaspoon) cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup (56ml) neutral flavored oil (like avocado, safflower or a mild olive oil)

For the salad:

  • 1¼ to 1½ pounds fresh asparagus
  • ¾ pound smoked chicken or turkey, sliced (may use regular cooked chicken or turkey, or even rotisserie chicken)
  • ½ cup roasted, salted peanuts, chopped
  • A combination of fresh parsley, basil, mint, chives and/or cilantro leaves (about 1/2 cup total, start with less if only using one stronger herb like cilantro or mint)
  • For serving: red pepper flakes (optional), lime wedges
  • Optional: vermicelli rice noodles or pasta of choice; butter lettuce or other tender greens


  1. For the sesame ginger dressing: To a small bowl or jar with a tight-fitting lid, add the shallots, ginger and garlic. Stir in the Dijon, followed by the vinegar, honey, sesame oil, salt and cayenne. Finally, whisk in the oil or, if using a jar, add the oil, screw the lid on tightly, and shake to emulsify the mixture. Make ahead tip: Dressing may be made in advance, covered and refrigerated where it will keep for about 5 days. (You will have enough dressing for a salad another night.) Let sit at room temperature and stir or shake well before using.

    For the asparagus: Preheat the oven to 425℉. Snap off the tough end of each asparagus spear, then cut each spear into 2-inch lengths. Cut thicker pieces in half lengthwise as necessary so all cut pieces are approximately the same size. Place the asparagus pieces on a large, rimmed baking sheet. (I spray the sheet with olive oil spray and then lightly mist the asparagus and sprinkle with fresh pepper but no salt at this point. You could toss with a drizzle of oil if preferred.) Bake for 8 minutes or until crisp tender. The sharp point of a knife should meet little resistance, but you don’t want the spears to be too soft. Helpful Hint: Check early, as thin spears will likely be cooked in as little as 5-6 minutes. Really thick spears, however, may require a few extra minutes. Cooking options: The asparagus pieces may also be sautéed on the stovetop in just enough oil to lightly coat, grilled or blanched. If blanching, immediately rinse with cold water after cooking and then pat dry.

    To make the salad: Place the asparagus and chicken in a salad bowl, and toss with just enough of the dressing to lightly coat. (Make ahead tip: At this point, the chicken and asparagus can be covered and refrigerated for several hours.) Top with the peanuts and herbs. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle lightly with red pepper flakes, if using, add another drizzle of the dressing, and include a lime wedge with each serving for squeezing overtop.

    As an option, the salad may be arranged on individual plates for serving: In this case, after tossing the asparagus and chicken with enough dressing to lightly coat, transfer the mixture to individual plates and proceed to top with equal portions of the herbs and peanuts. Drizzle with a bit more dressing, sprinkle lightly with red pepper flakes, and place a lime wedge on each plate.

Serving suggestions

We enjoy this salad as a light yet satisfying meal, often with a side of cornbread. A crusty roll would be a nice alternative and good for mopping up the flavorful dressing.The salad may also be served over a bed of tender greens, like butter lettuce. For a heartier meal, you could serve over rice noodles (or pasta of choice) that have been tossed with some of the dressing.

More recipes at