Friday, February 22, 2013

Local Fresh Asparagus with Romesco Sauce (& Toasted Pine Nuts)

It might seem early for asparagus recipes but we are lucky to live Hawaii where local asparagus can be found throughout the year. I was craving the tasty green stems and thought this Madhur Jaffrey Spanish-flavored recipe for Asparagus with Romesco Sauce sounded like a great way to enjoy it.

Jaffrey says, "Romesco Sauce, a beautiful orange-red, is just perfect with asparagus. Its color contrasts stunningly with the shaded green of the vegetable and its flavors--roasted peppers, garlic, good olive oil, and vinegar--compliment the delicate taste and texture of the asparagus."

Asparagus with Romesco Sauce
Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian
(Serves 4 to 6)

2 lbs fresh asparagus, trimmed, peeled, left whole and soaked in cold water for 15-30 minutes
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
scant 1/2 tsp salt
3-4 Tbsp Romesco Sauce (recipe below) per person

Drain the asparagus well.

Put the olive oil in a large frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the asparagus. Stir quickly until the asparagus is coated with oil, using tongs to move the spears around. Add 3 tablespoons of water and the salt. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until the asparagus is just cooked through. Uncover and turn up the heat to boil away most of the liquid.

Serve the hot asparagus immediately on individual plates with a dollop of Romesco Sauce across the middle or on the side. You could also allow the asparagus to cool on a platter, then cover, refrigerating if necessary. Serve the room temperature or chilled asparagus the same way, either on individual plates or on a large platter with a wide ribbon of sauce going across the center.

Maricel Presilla's Simple Romesco Sauce
Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian
(Makes 2 Cups)

1 dried ancho chile
3 large red bell peppers
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 garlic cloves, peeled

Remove the stem and seeds of the ancho chile. Put the chile in a small pot with 3/4 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low, and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it sit, covered, for another 5 minutes, or until the chile is very soft. Cool slightly in the liquid. Remove the chile from the liquid and peel away the skin. Save the liquid and the flesh.

Heat the broiler.  Remove the stems and seeds of the red peppers and cut into quarters lengthwise. Lay the peppers, skin side up, on a baking tray and place under the broiler 4 to 5 inches from the source of heat. Broil for 7-10 minutes, moving the pepper quarters as needed until the outside skins are evenly charred. You will need to turn the tray now and then to help them char evenly. Put the red peppers in a paper bag. Close the bag and set it aside for 10 minutes. (You could also cover the tray with a heavy towel for 10 minutes.) When they have finished resting in the paper bag or tray, peel away the pepper skins. 

Put the flesh of the chile, 2 tablespoons of the ancho chile liquid, peeled red peppers, oil, vinegar, cayenne, garlic, and salt into the container of a blender and puree. Empty into a decorative bowl and serve at room temperature.

Notes/Results: OK, I cheated and used jarred red peppers. I was feeling lazy and besides, it is almost cheaper to buy a jar than whole red peppers here. ;-) And it made this dish go together very quickly with the soaking of the asparagus and re-hydrating the ancho chile being the only things that took any time. This is a great way and healthy way to enjoy fresh asparagus--the tangy sauce is tasty and there was plenty of sauce leftover that I'll use with roasted potatoes. For color contrast and texture I garnished with some toasted pine nuts.I would make this again.

We are Out of India for this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme--celebrating Madhur Jaffrey's recipes from other parts of the globe. You can check out where everyone decided to go by going to the post and following the links.

Happy Aloha Friday!


  1. I haven't had romesco sauce in ages. Your sauce is such a stunning color, Deb. Really beautiful against the asparagus. Nice choice for this week's theme.

  2. asparagus is one of my fave veggies and your presentation makes it look so bright and colorful


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