Since deciding to follow a plant based diet, I’m trying to also incorporate more grains, beans & legumes into my cooking. And I also try to pick one veggie and really amp it up as the star of the show. Here, I thought I’d be focusing on asparagus. But let me tell you, these humble orange bell peppers are EVERYTHING in this spring salad.
Sweet, roasted orange bell peppers are filled with a salad of creamy white beans, tender asparagus tips, tangy red onions, salty bites of feta, crunchy chopped walnuts and fresh thyme leaves; all drizzled in a luscious and lemony tahini dressing!
I love white beans. But let’s face it. They are like potatoes and eggs in that they need a little kick in the flavor department. But they’ll be perfect drizzled in this creamy, nutty. lemony tahini dressing. I actually toss the white beans with a bit of dressing, and serve the remaining dressing on the side. The bell peppers are cooked to a perfect soft bite. And they make the perfect edible bowls for this special spring salad. Can’t wait for the farm markets to open. But I found some delicate asparagus tips at The Fresh Market which were a perfect addition to the white beans.
These sweet bell peppers were roasted to perfection. You can chop bell peppers and add them to the salad, but in my mind, it just wouldn’t be the same. I happened to find some honeyed walnuts which were the perfect complement to the salty feta. Such a great combination of flavors and textures in every bite. Serve this up with a handful of your favorite greens.
I happened to have some extra Lemon & Thyme Marinated Feta that I made a week ago. And it was perfect with the lemony flavor of the tahini dressing. And since I had some leftover thyme, it’s the herb I used for this salad, too. Lemons and asparagus always have me thinking of spring. But I’d eat this salad any time of the year really.
This is truly a versatile salad. And you can make it seasonal, just by the veggies you have on hand at any time of the year. But here are some ways you can MAKE IT YOUR OWN:
- Use any sweet bell pepper you’d like. I love orange and yellow peppers best. But red would be great. And though I find green peppers to be a little bitter, use them if that’s your thing.
- You could actually use other beans if you wish. Or a combination of beans would be great.
- You don’t have to use beans at all. How about chickpeas? Or maybe you’d rather use a grain like farro, couscous, bulgur or even rice.
- I chose asparagus to celebrate spring. But choose your favorite vegetables. Think of how you can incorporate different colors.
- Not only can you choose ingredients from your current season, you can choose ingredients based on your favorite regions of the world. Maybe you want to create a Tex-Mex flavor or pull from Mediterranean cuisine?
- Leave out the cheese to make this vegan. Otherwise your favorite crumbled cheese would work here.
- I used thyme because I had extra that I needed to use up. But this would taste super with any fresh herb.
- And I love the creamy sesame lemon dressing here. But depending on the other ingredients you use, other creamy dressings or even vinaigrettes would be just as good. How about a Creamy Herb, Feta & Garlic Dressing or a simple Balsamic Vinaigrette?
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 3 medium bell peppers, cut in half, seeds and stems trimmed and removed
- 2 - 15 ounce cans of white beans rinsed and drained
- 1 bunch of asparagus tips
- ½ cup of crumbled feta
- ¼ cup of diced purple onion
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 heaping Tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- Roughly 1 cup of greens per pepper. (6 for this recipe)
- salt & pepper to taste
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- 4 Tablespoons of tahini paste
- 4 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons of honey
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- pinch of cumin
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 Tablespoon ( or more) of water to thin out the dressing to your desired consistency.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the peppers, cut side up, on a baking sheet.
- Drizzled about ⅛ of a teaspoon of olive oil into each pepper and rub it around the inside and along the cut edges of the peppers.
- Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until the peppers start to wrinkle slightly and the top edges take on a bit of char.
- Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
- Blanch the asparagus tips in a pan of boiling water for 1½ - 2 minutes.
- Remove the asparagus to a bowl of ice water to help retain their bright color.
- Simple mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
- Add water, 1 Tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
- I only added 1 Tablespoon to my dressing for this salad.
- Taste and reseason as desired.
- Drain the asparagus, pat dry, and chop into small pieces.
- Place the white beans in a large bowl.
- Add about 2-3 Tablespoons of dressing to the beans and toss gently.
- Add the asparagus, onion, thyme, walnuts and feta.
- Season with additional salt & pepper if desired.
- Toss gently.
- Pat any excess oil from the inside of the peppers.
- Place a handful of greens on a serving plate
- Top with a pepper, and fill with the white bean salad. (It's ok if they overflow onto your greens!)
- Garnish with additional walnuts, feta or thyme if desired.
- Serve with remaining dressing on the side for an additional drizzle.
All of my salads and dressings are just a starting place for your imagination. So feel free to add or swap ingredients and do what works for you!