Asparagus and smoked salmon rolls

A make-ahead, party-perfect treat!

This recipe was inspired by my friend Barbara, a visual artist who also happens to be an accomplished cook and gardener; it’s a dish that serves as a great showcase of all her talents. When she made these recently for a pot luck party at my house, I knew I’d have to replicate her very successful experiment, tinkering just a little with the seasoning. I’ve also provided Barb’s unique cooking method for the asparagus – it’s so much easier than steaming and guarantees that the asparagus won’t end up limp and overcooked. One of the things I love most about this recipe is that you can prepare the rolls up to 8 hours before serving, making them ideal for a party, as an hors d’oeuvre platter or plated appetizer. And please, let me apologize in advance for how addictive this dish is.


  • 16 spears fresh asparagus
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) cream cheese, softened
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground coriander seeds (optional but delicious)
  • 5 ounces (145 grams) thinly sliced smoked salmon
  • handful fresh dill
  • half fresh lemon, for garnish


  • Rinse asparagus spears in cool water. Snap off the woody ends at their natural breaking point (Here’s a video in case you have no idea what I am talking about).
  • Lay the asparagus in a single layer in a heatproof dish (or in a clean, empty sink with the drain plug inserted). Leave a gap in the centre of the dish or sink so you have room to add boiling water without having to pour it directly onto any of the spears.
  • Pour a kettle full of boiling water into the gap between the asparagus spears, enough to cover them by at least a half-inch (1.25 cm).
  • Let the asparagus sit and cook gently as the water cools.
  • After 8 – 12 minutes, test the asparagus for doneness by poking the tip of a sharp knife into a stem; it should be just tender. Thicker stalks may need a little more time.
  • Remove the asparagus from the warm water and run it under very cold water to stop the cooking process. Place the spears on a clean towel and dry them gently.
  • Roll up the towel with the asparagus in it and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the rolls.
  • When ready to assemble, combine the cream cheese, lemon zest and ground coriander. Stir to blend well.
  • Cut the smoked salmon into 16 pieces approximately 1 inch by 2.5 inches (2.5 cm x 6.25 cm) each.
  • To assemble, cut a spear in half cross-wise, so you have two equal pieces.
  • Lay the two pieces side by side and put a teaspoon-sized dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the middle.
  • Lay a sprig of dill on top of the cream cheese.
  • Wrap one piece of the cut smoked salmon around the cream cheese-covered portion of a pair of asparagus pieces, folding the ends to the underside. Press gently so the salmon adheres to the cream cheese.
  • Lay the first bundle on a serving platter and repeat with remaining spears.
  • Cover the platter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 8 hours before serving.
  • Immediately before serving, halve the zested lemon and squeeze the juice of one half over the rolls.

Makes 16 rolls.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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