Asparagus with Maple Tahini Dressing

Vegan asparagus with tahini maple dressing is a lovely gluten free side dish
Vegan maple-tahini dressing adorns the Queen of Spring: Asparagus.

Spring here in BoHo infused West Hollywood means trading in your Uggs for flip-flops. And hurtling downhill on your skateboard past midnight, apparently.  For four nights in a row now I've been startled awake by the rolling wheels of wild ones zooming past our bedroom window in the wee small hours of the morning. I suspect they are taggers, or teenage paparazzi on the hunt for misbehaving Melrose prey (there have been more helicopters lately). Sleep has been edgy and restless. The season of change is afoot. Or rather on a roll.

Which in an odd and sleep-deprived way, brings me to asparagus.

It's a welcome signal of warmer days (and nights!) when those bundles of slender green stalks are back, standing tall in elegant rows at the local market. Erect, perky little beauties.

My deep and abiding craving for asparagus is surprising for someone who never tendered a single bite of fresh asparagus until my third decade here on planet Earth. Yes, you read that right. Three decades. I admit it.

I was anti-asparagus.

In my own defense, I must mention, in full transparency, that the only asparagus I was served in childhood was from a can. A CAN.

And Darling! If you've never had the non-pleasure of noshing said limp and stringy excuse for a such a brilliant vegetable, I am here to assure you, it was tinny, flaccid, and disgusting with a capital D (and in full disclosure, it ended up buried deep inside my paper napkin, doomed for the garbage pail as soon as the parental and familial accomplices to this vegetable horror were occupied elsewhere, tuning into the Lawrence Welk Show).

But now? I could eat asparagus till the grass fed cows come home. 

I could chomp, night and day. Happy as a Green Goddess in vegetable heaven. Can you overdose on asparagus? I hope not. Because I'm indulging every chance I get.

It's been a long, root vegetable-centric winter.

For my first asparagus of the season I wanted a simple, fresh recipe- nothing complicated. And nothing roasted, because I've been roasting vegetables all winter long. And although my favorite way to cook asparagus is to roast it with olive oil and and garlic- like this Sexy Spring Pasta Recipe with Roasted Asparagus- this time I craved a super easy, super simple presentation.

I just barely cooked it, simmering it briefly in a scant amount of water until it turned bright green. Tender-crisp is the goal (think mushy, canned, and go for the opposite).

Then I whipped up a simple dressing with sesame tahini and pure maple syrup, and sprinkled some coarse sea salt over it. Vegan heaven. On a plate. And did I mention? 

Not a single Lawrence Welk bubble in sight.

Asparagus with tahini maple dressing is vegan and gluten free
Fresh asparagus with a dressing worthy of such an elegant vegetable.

Karina's Asparagus Recipe with Maple Tahini Dressing

Recipe posted April 2009.

I cooked this batch of asparagus quickly- not even five minutes- because I wanted the stalks to be tender but ever-so-slightly crisp. I served them at room temperature with our favorite dressing.


1 bunch of perky thin asparagus, enough for four servings

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons sesame tahini
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Hot water, as needed

For serving:

Coarse sea salt or Kosher salt


Trim the bottom ends of the asparagus stalks, rinse, and lay them in a skillet; I used my big iron skillet. Add just enough water to keep them from scorching and cook them briefly, rotating them until they are bright green. Taste test for doneness to your liking.

Rinse them quickly in cool water (I do this to stop them from cooking, getting too soft, and turning yellowish green; I like them bright and crisp for this dressing).

Whisk the dressing ingredients in a glass measuring cup; add a little bit of hot water to thin. Whisk till smooth. Taste test and adjust the balance of sweet and nutty and tart. (I don't add salt to the dressing because I serve the asparagus with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt over the top.)

Serve the drained asparagus on a plate with a drizzle of Maple Tahini Dressing and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.

Cook time: 5 min

Yield: Serves 4

Recipe Source:

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And be sure to check out Kalyn Denny's round-up of asparagus recipes at BlogHer- Food Bloggers Answer: What's Your Favorite Way to Cook Asparagus?

xox Karina


Katrina said...

So this post has totally inspired me. As part of my gluten free travel blog, I try out various food products and see how they adapt to life in a hotel room. I am going to be testing PB2 soon. Your post just inspired me to use it to make a Thai style sauce for my veggies. I think it could totally work in a microwave. YAY!!!!! Thanks for the inspiration!

Kalyn said...

This is gorgeous! Cannot wait to try this recipe myself because the asparagus here is outstanding this year.

Carrie Oliver said...

Karina, I am so lucky, I have all these ingredients on hand. I'm not even hungry (crab and salad for dinner) but ...

Jennifer said...

That dressing is out of this world!!! Im going to try it this week!! YUM!

Ricki said...

The dressing looks wonderful, as does the asparagus. I, too, had a little epiphany when I first tasted fresh asparagus properly cooked. I don't think you can overdose on it, but it IS a diuretic, so you might want to drink up while you eat. . . ;)

Meghan at Making Love In the Kitchen said...

No asparagus in season yet here, but I am sure this sauce would be great on any vegetable- thinking broccoli or Brussel's Sprouts (my fave).

~M said...

I'm not an asparagus fan...but this dressing sounds great for barely steamed broccoli. :)

RecipeGirl said...

This looks fabulous. We love asparagus, and it's actually one vegetable that my 7 year old will eat! I never know what to do with tahini... it sits in my fridge and collects dust, so I'm happy to find another recipe that utilizes it!

DJ Karma (VegSpinz) said...

The flavors sound delicious together!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Canned asparagus??? I cannot imagine it! Love the idea of a slightly sweet dressing with this; I always go the other route, something sharp, or just salt and pepper. We're a few weeks away from farm-fresh asparagus here, so I'm collecting new ideas. Thanks!

moonwatcher said...

This looks yummy, Karina. I love fresh asparagus, too!


Laura Schmitt said...

I loved fresh asparagus from the garden, growing up. I have never found equal love from the grocery store availability, but I will try your dressing and see if it helps ;)
Oh, some fun "Karina" news. I was volunteering at an Autism Awareness Walk and a dietitian came up to ask me if I had heard of this wonderful Gluten Free Goddess on the internet? I told her she was in good hands on your website with wonderful healthy food, beautiful artistic pictures, and a story to accompany everything. :) I also told her that you donated a day of recipes to our glutenanddairyfree site. So fun to see how well you are doing that even here in Iowa, ramblings of your food blog make their way to local events.
Keep up the beautiful work!!!

Alexander said...

Love the most-recent re-design! Great colors, great photos.

canadianfoodiegirl said...

Looking forward to trying this during asparagus season. I always have those dressing ingredients on hand.

milhan said...

I didn't even know they canned asparagus...what a shame...I'm glad you got past that horror!

Elana said...

Ok, just figured out which vegetable I'm serving at our Seder Wednesday night; this looks amazing :-)

Vegetation said...

Oh wow! This looks fantastic! I can't wait to try it!

Meenakshi said...

Yum! A tangy dressing likes this works so well with asparagus. I'm gonna try this out. I usually do a very simple lemon sauce....

Laura said...

Oooohhh. I grew up eating fresh asparagus. One time, while camping with my husband we packed a can of aspargus, thinking it would be a healthy addition to our bland camp food. We didn't finish more than two bites before tossing it in the fire. I've often wondered who buys those cans and what do they use them for? Poor dear, no wonder you thought aspargus was awful.

milhan said...

The colors in this photo are magnificent!

sonce said...

Tried the dressing - loved it! It sure elevated my romaine and leftover chicken salad. Thank you.

Tatieva said...

Hum, j'adore les asperges !!! C'est mon petit "pêché mignon", comme on dit en France... ;-)

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

This dressing sounds delicious, bookmarked!

peggysue said...

Asparagus is the best! If you can overdose on it, I'm in danger too! said...

Wow based on the picture fill my plate. Never really eaten alot of asparagus. Might have to look for some at the local farmers market this week.

Karina Allrich said...

Thank you, Lovelies, for your asparagus (and maple dressing) love. xox Karina

Jill said...

I grew up with fresh asparagus straight out of my mom's garden and I still didn't like it until I was somewhere in my 20's!

I just picked up fresh maple syrup from the sugarhouse last weekend. I'll have to pick up some tahini before asparagus becomes in season around here!

Meagan said...

Karina - this may be a stupid question... but I have to ask. Recently I saw "The Gluten-Free Goddess" on Yelp... is this you, do you have a real bakery location? I was searching GF in Beverly Hills and stumbled upon this.

Karina Allrich said...

Meagan, No - that is not me! I've been here as the Gluten-Free Goddess since 2005. :-(


Amy said...

This looks delish but we are sesame free. I know sunflower seed butter can sometimes be subbed for tahini. Do you think it would work here? Thanks for all the wonderful recipes that floor our non-gf friends and family.


Karina Allrich said...

Amy, I think cashew butter would be delicious as a sub for tahini. The sunflower seed butter would be a liitle strong, and oily, I think.

Coach Laura Anna Doyle said...

I love asparagus! Recently I've been having it roasted with gorgonzola butter. I too could eat it all day. I'll have to give this a try this weekend.

Janet NZ said...

We LONG for the asparagus season - over now for us. October - just in time for our wedding anniversary - such a celebration. Before Rick, my idea of asparagus was canned and wrapped in white bread... this was pre-my celiac diagnosis - and way before I was a grown-up :-) Now, we eat asparagus roasted, briefly, still a bit crunchy and luscious, and that dressing... OH MAN - now we have to wait till next year... aarrgghh! xxx

The InTolerant Chef said...

How are tinned and fresh asparagus even vaugely related to each other? I'm sure they are two completly different animals.

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Karina, I've got you beat ... I went for almost five decades not liking asparagus! LOL And I was even eating the real stuff, not canned. I learned to love it roasted just a couple of years ago and now I love it every way (well not canned!). I'm making this very soon and will report back. Hubby, who adores asparagus will just love it as I'm sure I will, too. Thanks, dear. Hope the skateboarders start going to bed earlier so you can get a better night's rest!


freeeats said...

Thank you for a new twist for serving asparagus. I was stuck in a rut, roasting them on a sheet pan with a drizzle of balsamic and olive oil. This recipe however will have people thinking I went to a lot of effort! ;)

Anonymous said...

Just made this and holy cow was it good! This was the best asparagus I have ever had. Thank you so much for another delicious recipe. I have been celebrating ever since the day I found your website, cooking my way through it. Thanks for bringing back to joy of FOOD to your fellow food intolerant friends!

Secrets of Mamahood said...

Just made this with cashew butter and coconut oil instead of olive oil... My husband said "YUM!" Thanks for the great recipes. I'm off to finish my share. Aloha!

weirdcombos said...

Wow this recipe looks incredible. I've got to try this soon. Simple and elegant, just the way I like it! Nice Blog, beautiful writing and pics!

Liette said...

I made this recipe for my family and everyone loved it, including my 2 small children. I had leftovers and have been using it as salad dressing mmmm good.

Heather @ Healthy Vegan Recipes said...

mmm, great combo of flavors... I often go for herb-y-type flavors with asparagus, but asian is my fave on broccoli - why not asparagus??
Don't worry, I hated asparagus when I was little - and it wasn't out of a can, but cooked to death.
Can't wait for spring up here in Canada now!!!

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Karina, I know I told you on FB how much we enjoyed this dressing on asparagus the other night, but I also wanted to tell you that my son loved it as a salad dressing for a mixed greens salad as a midnight snack last night. So it's versatile. :-)


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