Spring Asparagus Salad with Raw and Grilled Greens


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(Note: this post was originally published on May 8, 2019. It has since been updated with a few tweaks).

A Show-Stopping Spring Asparagus Salad

If you're as excited about spring as I am, I can't wait to introduce you to this seasonal centerpiece. This vibrant salad features a combination of grilled lettuce and raw lettuce as well as iconic spring ingredients like asparagus, artichoke hearts, and lemon. It's a celebration of all things spring that will work beautifully for your seasonal occasions.

If you've never made a grilled greens salad before, prepare to be amazed. Grilling lettuce adds a whole new dimension of texture and flavor that you're going to love. I especially like to mix grilled lettuce with raw lettuce so that you get the best of both worlds: decadent charred flavor AND crisp, fresh crunch.

Ready to start on your spring show-stopper? Keep reading to get all my best tips for grilled greens.

Spring asparagus salad with assorted grilled greens

How to Grill Lettuce

Grilled lettuce can be a true delight, but it can also be a bit tricky. If you're new to grilling your greens, I highly encourage you to try it out. Grilled greens can add so much flavor to a salad and can yield a really beautiful dish. Here's how to do it:

  1. Choose the right lettuce. Greens that come in a tight head (e.g., romaine, endive, radicchio) will work best. Conversely, light frilly heads (e.g. butter lettuce, red leaf lettuce, Boston lettuce) are too soft and won't work.
  2. Oil well. Lettuce is delicate, so it can stick easily. Oil the grill racks very thoroughly to ensure an easy release.
  3. Preheat the grill. You'll only grill the lettuce for a couple minutes, and you want that time to be at high heat. Don't add the lettuce until the grill is nicely pre-heated, otherwise the delicate lettuce will wilt.
  4. Grill hot and fast. You want to lightly char and mark the greens, not make them warm and wilty. This should only take a minute or at most two; when you're finished, the inside of the lettuce heads or spears should still be cool.
  5. Add crunch. Grilled lettuce ends up a bit softer than raw lettuce. Compensate for that softer texture by adding lots of crunch and/or by leaving some of your lettuce raw (like in this salad!).

Beautiful grilled greens salad with asparagus and pesto

Spring Flavors for Spring Occasions

In addition to both raw and grilled greens, this salad has some other iconic spring flavors. Asparagus is, of course, a classic spring ingredient and adding grilled asparagus to this salad makes it feel heartier. Artichoke hearts are also super-seasonal, plus their intricate shapes are really beautiful. Grilled lemon halves or wedges drive the spring theme home and are eye-catching.

To keep things light and bright, you'll finish this springy asparagus salad simply. Some dollops of bright green pesto, a drizzle of lemon juice, a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts, and generous salt and pepper are all it needs.

This salad is a show-stopping addition to any special spring meal. Because the flavors are light and relatively neutral, it works beautifully alongside a wide variety of dishes but especially those that are Mediterranean-leaning and fresh. This grilled greens salad could even become a main course by plating it on a bed of cooked farro and/or by adding a big dollop of lemon hummus on top.

Make-Ahead Tips

Greens are best fresh off the grill; if you let them sit, they'll get soggy. If you want to make this grilled lettuce salad for an event, I suggest cutting all the ingredients ahead of time and keeping them in the fridge. Don't start grilling until you're ready to eat though, then arrange the salad and serve it immediately.

Spring asparagus salad on a serving platter

Ingredients and Substitutions

Here's what you'll need for this asparagus salad recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

  • Asparagus
  • Assorted lettuces. These photos show a combination of romaine hearts, green endives, red endives, and a small head of radicchio, but choose whatever you like. Just remember to check out my grilled greens tips above before you dive in.
  • Lemons
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Avocado. Optional, but it adds some nice decadence to this grilled greens salad, which is otherwise pretty light.
  • Pesto. Check out my vegan oil-free pesto guide if you want to make your own. A high-quality store-bought option is also fine.
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Flaky sea salt. The flavors in this dish are simple, so having a nice finishing salt is important. I love fleur de sel or sel gris. Make sure you choose a light, flaky salt for finishing dishes rather than a coarse-grained one; the latter will be too assertive and crunchy.

Spring salad with grilled lettuce, asparagus, artichokes, and pesto

Closing Thoughts

Isn't this salad a spring dream? These ingredients are all so seasonal and precious; they definitely deserve to be celebrated. Asparagus especially is one of those veggies that is best enjoyed when it's local and super fresh. That means you might just have a few-week window when your local asparagus is at its best, so savor it while you can.

This grilled greens + asparagus salad definitely brings the wow factor to your table; it's great proof that salads can (and should!) server as the centerpiece of a meal. Whether you make this one for Easter, a baby shower, a bridal shower, a special April dinner, or even a spring brunch, I hope it has all your guests snapping photos.

Grilled greens salad with spring ingredients

Share It!

It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.

Suggested Pairings

Blackberry Limoncello Gin Smash

Loaded Lemon Hummus

Somewhere Over The Rainbow Pasta Salad

Nourishing Pasta Primavera

Healthy Fig, Pistachio, and Lemon Truffles

Spring Asparagus Salad with Raw and Grilled Greens

This show-stopping grilled greens salad is a celebration of spring ingredients and colors. It unites grilled and raw lettuce with asparagus for a surprisingly fresh combination of flavors and textures.



  • Small bunch of asparagus
  • 2 romaine hearts
  • 2 green endives
  • 2 red endives
  • Small head of radicchio
  • 3 lemons
  • 15-oz can of water-packed artichoke hearts
  • Avocado
  • 0.5 c pesto
  • 0.25 c toasted pine nuts
  • Generous flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the grill to high heat and oil the racks very well.
  2. Prepare the asparagus by cutting off the tough ends.
  3. Prepare the lettuce (romaine, endives, and radicchio) by cutting all the heads into narrow spears. Make sure each lettuce spear includes part of the stem; otherwise the lettuce will fall apart.
  4. Cut the lemons in half and remove the seeds.
  5. Grill the asparagus lightly so that it is tender but still retains its shape and bright color, about five minutes. Set it aside.
  6. Grill about half of the lettuce spears. You can either grill all of a certain kind, leaving other kinds raw, or grill half of each type. Grill it very hot and fast, in order to get some char on the cut side but not warm the lettuce through.
  7. Grill the lemon halves until charred; keep a close eye on them because the sugars will burn quickly.
  8. Drain the artichoke hearts and cut them into halves or quarters.
  9. Cut the avocado into halves or wedges.
  10. Assemble the salad on a serving platter, arranging the larger items first and then adding smaller items on top.
  11. Drizzle the salad with the juice from one of the grilled lemons, then add small dollops of pesto.
  12. Finish the salad with pine nuts and generous sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve with the remaining grilled lemon halves for drizzling onto individual portions.

Leave a Comment

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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August 21, 2022
Stunning! We all love pesto, so I'm excited to try this. I've never put pesto on a salad before but it sounds great.
April 20, 2022
Gina- Awesome idea, I love that! I think it would be great with cabbage... especially Napa cabbage, which is a bit lighter. Plus it can stand up to more grilling!! Please let me know if you try it. I need to try it myself too!
April 19, 2022
Do you think this might work with cabbage?? I always end up with cabbage and don’t know what to do with it.
June 27, 2020
I have never had success grilling lettuce until I followed your technique tips. This is a delicious recipe for a warm, summer night!