Simple and quick, this spring salad is perfect for the first picnic of the season or served beside a Leg of Lamb.

What to buy: Use good-quality extra-virgin olive oil to prepare this salad—it will add a lot of flavor.

P’tit Basque is a flavorful sheep’s-milk cheese from the Basque region of France. It has a fruity, olivelike flavor. If you can’t find it, use Manchego cheese instead.

Game plan: This salad can be made up to 2 hours ahead—just leave off the cheese. Toss briefly and top with cheese right before serving.

This dish was featured as part of our Picnic Recipes photo gallery.

  • Yields: 4 to 6 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 40 mins 
  • Active: 15 mins 

Ingredients (11)

For the asparagus:

  • 2 pounds asparagus

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

To serve:

  • 1/2 medium sweet onion (Maui, Vidalia, or Walla Walla), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • 2 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves
  • 1 ounce P’tit Basque cheese, sliced paper thin


For the asparagus:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and water. Rinse the asparagus and trim the woody ends off the bottom of the stalks (about 1/2 inch).
  2. Once the water boils, add the asparagus and cook until the stalks are knife tender, about 2 to 5 minutes depending on their thickness. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water bath to cool. Drain and set aside.

For the vinaigrette:

  1. Whisk lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small, nonreactive bowl until the salt has dissolved. While whisking continuously, add oil by pouring in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Once all the oil is added, check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

To serve:

  1. Place asparagus and onions in a wide, shallow dish and drizzle vinaigrette over top. Toss until vegetables are well coated, then let marinate for 15 minutes. Scatter garbanzo beans, mint, and cheese on top. Grind fresh black pepper over everything and serve cold or at room temperature.

Beverage pairing: Domaines Schlumberger Gewürztraminer Fleur, France. This light-bodied Gewürztraminer’s sweet fruit picks up the saltiness of the cheese, while the floral notes dance between the asparagus and the mint.