Last week I decided to do something I rarely do . . . actually follow a recipe! I’m usually allergic to recipes, obsessively tweaking whatever I’m cooking up to make it a bit more my own. I suppose this comes in part from my years learning to cook while living overseas, where I always felt a bit too transient to invest in measuring utensils. Needless to say I’m not a great baker . . . but that’s another story.
Still, when I came across this recipe for Roasted Asparagus with Pistachio Puree from Michael Natkin’s awesome veggie site, Herbivoricious, I felt inspired to follow it as closely as possible and see what would happen. I got out my measuring cups and spoons, bought the correct ingredients, and whipped up something new and delicious. I served this with fresh fruit to start, a delicious beet tartar, and a good bottle of wine (Erath Pinot Noir, one of my faves). I might have had a special occasion to put together a meal like this. ;)
I learned a few new tricks while taking the time to follow this recipe but still made it my own by discovering some awesome ways to serve the leftovers. And I have to say, as fancy as this sounds, it was a snap to make. Even though the list of ingredients and steps looks long in this post, I probably put together this entire dish in a little over half an hour, including the cooking times. It’s impressive and easy. Go for it.
Roasted Asparagus with Pistachio Puree
- 2 cups unsalted, roasted pistachios
- juice of one whole, medium-sized lemon
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup water
Roasted Asparagus (I guess I did adapt this part a tiny bit. The following is my version—check here for the original.)
- 1 bunch organic asparagus spears, the fat kind, trimmed
- extra virgin olive oil
- balsamic vinegar reduction
- 1/4 cup unsalted, roasted pistachio kernels, coarsely chopped
- fresh tarragon leaves
I bought raw, unsalted, organic pistachios, so I needed to roast them myself. In order to do this:
- Preheat the oven to 325 F.
- Spread the pistachios in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Cook for about 10-12 minutes.
The nuts will be warm, chewy, and slightly brown when done. Yum.
Once the pistachios are roasted, combine them with the lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, smoked paprika, and half the olive oil in a vitamix. (The original recipe uses a regular blender, so don’t shy away if you haven’t yet gone pro with your blending utensils.)
With the lid on and at a medium-low speed, drizzle in the rest of the olive oil followed by the water. Blend until mostly smooth but not totally creamy—you’ll want a bit of texture here.
Once the initial ingredients are blended, you can tweak the flavor if needed. I added a bit more salt (I like salt.) and another pinch of smoked paprika, but overall, I didn’t feel the need to change much at all. Make sure to keep the puree covered, as the beautiful green will oxidize and turn brown on top, just like guacamole.
As soon as you take the pistachios out of the oven, turn up the heat to 400. Toss the asparagus with a bit of olive oil and salt, and roast on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes. (I served the asparagus in full spears because it looks pretty and that’s how it’s done in the original, but I found the spears a little tough to cut into. Next time, I might halve them before roasting and forget the fancy presentation.)
Once the asparagus is tender, turn on the broiler and cook until it becomes blackened in spots. This last step is important—the crispy asparagus heads and crunchy black bits add a great texture to the final dish.
Spoon the pistachio puree onto a plate and place the asparagus on top. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios over everything, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction*, and garnish with fresh tarragon leaves. Add a bit more salt to taste.
*The original recipe calls for real balsamic vinegar or a reduction, and considering the price of the real stuff at Whole Foods, I decided to try my hand at a reduction. It worked perfectly, and I’ll definitely be making more. To make your own reduction:
- Pour a bit of balsamic vinegar into a small pot or pan.
- Bring to a boil.
- Add sugar—I think I used equal parts organic unrefined sugar and balsamic vinegar.
- Reduce to medium-high heat and continuously whisk the mixture until it reduces by half or just a bit more.
- Drizzle away!
This recipe makes far more puree than you’ll need—after all, it’s basically a fancy nut butter. Luckily, it keeps for up to a week in the fridge and is so delicious you’ll be happy to have extra.
Natkin recommends serving the leftovers with other types of veggies, such as raw endive or roasted cauliflower. I used a bit of my leftovers as a dip for baby carrots, and heated the rest up in the oven to make a hot dip for rice crackers and French bread. I highly recommend heating up the leftovers. The hot dip was gooey and yummy and rich—yet totally vegan. It would make a great pesto-like sauce for pasta, as well.
Oh, and I did get a nice thank you for such an awesome dinner :)
So many more delicious-looking recipes to try!!!
- The missing zing: Balsamic-glazed penne with roasted asparagus (splashofsomething.com)
- Roasted Beet, Asparagus and Arugula Salad (foodologie.com)
- A is for Asparagus (itstartswithbreakfast.wordpress.com)
- The Menu: Burrata with Asparagus, Peas and Pistachio-Arugula Pesto (justinlovewithberni.com)
- Recipe for Slow Roasted Asparagus (kalynskitchen.com)