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Grilled Asparagus with Tomato Salad & Tahini Sauce

This gorgeous grilled Asparagus and Turkish Ezme inspired tomato salad with tahini dressing is a light and refreshing (accidentally) vegan side-dish that’s perfect for spring. The asparagus is cooked until tender and slightly charred, and the tomatoes are tossed in simple vinaigrette with red onion, red pepper, and parsley. The tahini dressing adds a creamy nuttiness and a burst of citrus flavour. 

Asparagus with Turkish Ezme inspired Tomato Salad and Creamy Tahini Dressing on a white plate with a white wood background

This is a simple dish that can be prepared in 30 minutes and goes well with just about anything – I recommend it as a side to this perfectly crisp roast chicken or this slow cooked lamb 

Inspired By Middle Eastern Summers

This recipe was inspired by Acili ezme, a delicious Turkish salad made with tomatoes, onions, peppers, parsley, and garlic. It’s a popular appetizer or side dish in Turkey, and is becoming increasingly popular in other parts of the world. 

Acili ezme is typically made by finely chopping all of the ingredients and mixing them together with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. The amount of heat in acili ezme varies depending on the recipe, but it is generally a mildly spicy salad. It’s both delicious and healthy and is perfect for a sunny summer’s day. 

A Tradition of Flavour 

Now, many traditional ezme recipes call for the addition of Pomegranate molasses, but I’ve adjusted it according to what most of us have readily available at home. (Because no, even professional chefs don’t always have fancy ingredients like Pomegranate molasses at hand. We’re human too, y’know.) 

You’re So Fine

The trick to creating the perfect tomato salad to accompany your char-grilled asparagus is to chop the veggies super finely.  So think of it as something in between a finely chopped salad, salsa and a dip.

Grilled Asparagus – The Star of The Show

This dish makes the most of the glorious fresh produce available at this time of year, with delicious fresh asparagus being the star of the show.  We want the fresh flavour to come through so we’ve kept the preparation simple. Bonus feature – it’s really quick and easy to make. Pan-fry the seasoned fresh asparagus in oil until slightly charred but still relatively firm to bite.

close up of asparagus with Turkish Ezme inspired Tomato Salad and Creamy Tahini Dressing on a white plate with a white wood background

It’s Getting Hot in Here

Aleppo pepper or Halaby peppers are grown in Aleppo, Syria. They’re around one or two inches in length and are a gorgeous deep red in colour. Their flavour profile is spicy, earthy, but also has hints of citrus and a sweetness to them. There is also a smokiness present that complements the grilled asparagus beautifully. Aleppo peppers offer a moderate heat level, and are a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine.

They’re a good source of vitamins A and C, too.

No Aleppo peppers?

If you’re looking for similar heat level, you can try cayenne pepper, but bear in mind that its flavour is more intense, so you’d need less of it. You could also try a mix of cayenne pepper and paprika. Crushed red pepper flakes are a good substitute, again they offer a more intense flavour, so use less if you prefer to walk on the mild side.

Getting Saucy 

This side dish features two dressings, because we love it when things get saucy.  The first is a simple vinaigrette and then there’s the utterly delicious and moreish tahini sauce. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s ‘just tahini’ – the flavour is a lot more complex with a few simple ingredients, and yummier too, if you ask me.

Want to know the secret to perfectly smooth, glossy, and delicious tahini sauce?

Ice water.

Once you’ve added the garlic and lemon juice to your tahini and mixed it, you’ll notice the texture is coarse and lumpy.  The addition of ice cold water and blending it together with the tahini mixture will result in a silky smooth dressing.

For Pide’s Sake

This char-grilled asparagus with tomato salad and tahini sauce works perfectly as is, but for the carb fiends – and I know you’re out there – this dish is sublime when served with fresh Turkish style bread. You could try it with Pide, or Bazlama, which is a thin flatbread made with wheat flour, water, salt, and yeast.  Or Yufka, a thin, unleavened flatbread that is made with wheat flour and water.  Another popular option is Ekmek, a simple white bread that is made with wheat flour, water, salt, and yeast. 

Oh, and it also works perfectly with pita bread.

Rate This Grilled Asparagus Dish with Ezme Inspired Salad & Tahini

As always, if you try this recipe let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo#theculinarycartel onInstagramso we can see what you come up with.

Watch the recipe video

close up of asparagus with Turkish Ezme inspired Tomato Salad and Creamy Tahini Dressing on a white plate with a white wood background

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this gluten-free?

Yes, the dish itself is naturally gluten-free. Should you choose to serve it with bread on the side, be sure to check that it is gluten free.   

Can I make this vegan?

Yes, it is 100% suitable for vegans.

I have Pomegranate molasses – Can I add it to this recipe?

If you are indeed fancy and have pomegranate molasses in your pantry, you can add 1 tablespoon to the salad ingredients, for a more authentic ezme style taste

 

Asparagus with Turkish Ezme inspired Tomato Salad and Creamy Tahini Dressing on a white plate with a white wood background
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Asparagus with Turkish Ezme inspired Tomato Salad and Creamy Tahini Dressing on a white plate with a white wood background

Grilled Asparagus with Tomato Salad & Tahini Sauce


  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2-4 as a side dish
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This gorgeous grilled Asparagus and Turkish Ezme inspired tomato salad with tahini dressing is a light and refreshing vegan side-dish that’s perfect for spring. The asparagus is cooked until tender and slightly charred, and the tomatoes are tossed in simple vinaigrette with red onion, red pepper, and parsley. The tahini dressing adds a creamy nuttiness and a burst of citrus flavour.

 


Ingredients

Units

Asparagus

  • 450g/2 bunches asparagus
  • Small amount of olive oil for frying
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Tomato Salad

  • 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced thinly
  • 200 g cherry tomatoes (or other tomatoes in season), finely chopped
  • 1 red romano pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 medium hot red chili, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp Aleppo pepper, or chilli flakes, to taste

Tahini Sauce

  • 1 medium to large clove of garlic
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp ice water

Instructions

  1. For the tahini sauce, take a medium bowl and combine the minced garlic with lemon juice; set aside for 5 minutes to allow the acid to mellow the garlic
  2. Prep the asparagus by slicing off the woody ends off the spears (about 1,5cm), and peeling it about ⅔ of the way, stopping about 3cm from the asparagus tips.
  3. Add the tahini and salt to the garlic mixture and stir until a smooth paste is formed. While stirring, gradually incorporate 3 tablespoons of ice water to create a creamy and smooth tahini sauce.
  4. To prepare the tomato salad, start by finely chopping all the vegetables and herbs separately. Begin with the red pepper. Halve the pepper, remove the membrane and seeds and chop finely. Continue with the red onion, followed by the tomatoes, and the flat-leaf parsley. Once chopped, you can combine and finely chop the ingredients together.
  5. Add the salad to a bowl. Season with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, Aleppo pepper/chilli flakes, salt, and pepper. Mix well to ensure the flavours are evenly distributed. Set aside.
  6. Place a frying pan on a high heat. Drizzle the prepped asparagus with oil and toss with salt and pepper. Once the pan is smoking hot, tip in the asparagus and cook, charring lightly until just cooked through with a slight bite.
  7. To assemble the dish, spread the tahini sauce as the bottom layer on a serving plate. Spoon the tomato salad on top of the tahini sauce and finish by arranging the cooked asparagus over the salad.

 

Notes

This salad is best served immediately, but it can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Pan Fry

Nutrition

  • Calories: 158.39kcal
  • Sugar: 6.24g
  • Sodium: 307.45mg
  • Fat: 10.35g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.48g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 8.25g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 13.75g
  • Fiber: 4.87g
  • Protein: 5.72g
  • Cholesterol: 0.44mg

Keywords: grilled asparagus, tomato salad, tahini dressing

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