Asparagus Hominy Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie.  I’ve been making it for years – it’s from Heidi Swanson, a genius vegetarian who’s taught me so much.  Spring is the perfect time to make this salad.  It’s an asparagus salad and I found lots of asparagus at the farmers market!  Yay!!!!!

Two things struck me about this salad when I first started making it.  First, hominy.  I’m not sure if I ever had hominy before this salad.  The best hominy is the dried version – when I can, I buy mine from Rancho Gordo.  The dried hominy transforms this salad into extraordinary.  You taste the corn, you taste a slight saltiness from boiling the hominy in salted water….  It’s amazing.  Now, you can use canned and its still a perfectly lovely salad.  In fact I’ve done that here… I was out of dried hominy and I wanted to put my local, seasonal asparagus to good use.  To imitate dried and cooked hominy season it well before adding it to the salad.  I may try leaving it in a salt water solution next time if I don’t have dried.  I can’t let an asparagus season go by without making this salad.

The second lesson this salad taught me was the delightful lightness of a buttermilk dressing….almost a buttermilk vinaigrette if you will.  I had never made or eaten a buttermilk dressing like this.  Of course, I’ve had the creamy buttermilk, mayo-y dressings – but not a light one.  It’s a nice dressing to pair with vegetables you want to shine and Heidi suggests it with grains as well.  I haven’t tried that yet, I don’t know what’s stopping me.  Another key to this vinaigrette is the white wine vinegar you add.  Depending on how bracing it is you might need more.  Mine is quite timid so I added a little more.  And actually a squeeze of lemon wouldn’t be bad here.

The original recipe calls for only a large handful of hominy (posole) but I much prefer to use more.  Especially if I’m opening the can.  I use the whole thing.  That being said, the dressing provides more than enough for the salad.  I’d say go lightly when dressing the salad, you’ll have plenty leftover even if you add lots more veggies, but you will need to salt more.  I also use radishes as opposed to radish microgreens. It’s not that I don’t like microgreens, its just that they’re pricy and don’t fill my tummy.  So, I get my zip from an actual radish.

Definitely make this and consider adding it to your seasonal repertoire.

On an unrelated note, I discovered star apples at the farmers market!  Totally new to me.  They are believed to originate from the West Indies (or the Caribbean!) and they now flourish in Central America and the tropics.  It’s easily one of the prettiest fruits I’ve ever seen and I’m not quite sure how to describe the taste.  Soft, floral, kind of like a lychee…nothing apple-y about it.  You eat it with a spoon once it’s soft.


Asparagus Hominy Salad (which Heidi calls Buttermilk Asparagus Salad) adapted via Heidi Swanson

Buttermilk Dressing

1 medium clove garlic (sometimes I add a second one)
scant teaspoon fine grain sea salt (I used more because I added more hominy)
1 cup / 240 ml buttermilk
1/4 cup / 60 ml good-quality white wine vinegar
1/4 cup / 60 ml extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-Inch segments
1 large handful of cooked hominy or as much as you’d like in my case (follow the directions on the package if using dried)
a big handful of chopped cilantro
a big handful of radish sprouts or 2-3 radishes, sliced into sticks

To make the dressing, combine the garlic and salt on a cutting board. Mash into a paste using the flat side of your knife. Place in a medium bowl or jar, then add the buttermilk and vinegar. Whisk together, then gradually whisk in the olive oil. Let sit while you make the rest of the components.

Steam or sauté the asparagus.  I do as the original recipes suggests which is to do a “steam-saute”….[Start with a cold skillet. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup water, a splash of olive oil, and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, add the asparagus, cover, cooking until the asparagus is just tender and bright in color, 1-2 minutes depending on thickness.]  Drain the asparagus and transfer to a cold water bath to stop the cooking.  Set aside.

Just before serving, combine the asparagus, hominy, cilantro, and sprouts/radishes in a large bowl. Coat generously with a splash of the buttermilk dressing, and toss well before serving.  Season with salt as necessary.

You’ll have a bit of leftover dressing which can be used on vegetables, noodles, salads, and grains.

How will you use your Spring asparagus?


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