|Is it weird to think asparagus is pretty? Because I do.|
This recipe makes tons of crema. You can easily triple the asparagus and you'll have enough sauce. Don't cut the recipe, though, because the crema is brilliant on pasta and toasted bread and with raw veggies. It also keeps for at least two weeks in a Tupperware container.Roasted Asparagus with Walnut Crema
Adapted from A16 Food + Wine
For the crema:
1.5 cups walnuts
1/2 cup and 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
For the asparagus:
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large bunch asparagus (can easily triple this without increasing the other ingredients)
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
Good parmesan or pecorino cheese for topping
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
For the crema, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the walnuts and blanch them for 8-10 minutes. At the 8-minute mark, fish one out and see if it is slightly tender. If so, you're done. Drain the walnuts in a colander, reserving at least a cup of the blanching water.
While the walnuts are boiling, warm 1 tbsp. of the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of sea salt and sauté until the onion turns golden and fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat.
Put the onion, walnuts and reserved blanching water into the bowl of a food processor (a mini prep processor is probably big enough, depending on the size of the bowl). Whir until creamy, and then taste. Add a touch of salt if needed. Then add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil and whir again. It should look something like this:
|Think of it as Italian hummus. I could have processed it longer, but I liked the texture.|
To make the asparagus, snap the woody ends off and place the stalks on a baking sheet. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil until lightly coated, and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast the stalks in the oven for 8-10 minutes, removing when the stalks get lightly charred and are fork-tender. Keep an eye on them, because you don't want the stalks to get overcooked.
Finally, combine the toasted walnuts, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt in a small bowl and toss to coat the walnuts.
To assemble the platter--and you do want this on a platter because it looks spectacular--spread the crema first, then top with the asparagus. Arrange the asparagus on the platter, and sprinkle the walnuts over--you will have extra if you are using only one bunch of asparagus, but they keep, too. Shave a little parmesan or pecorino over the platter.
Serves 4 as a side dish.
Wine pairing: Asparagus is notoriously not wine-friendly, but the roasting mellows it. Dry riesling would work, as well as very light reds.