RECIPE | Asparagus with Romesco Blanco

Joe Yonan, food and dining editor for the Washington Post, joined us on the March 29, 2019 broadcast of The Virginia Eats + Drinks Show to talk about some of his favorite spring vegetables. He shares this recipe from his book Eat Your Vegetables [Ten Speed Press; first edition August 6, 2013]

Did you catch this broadcast of The Virginia Eats + Drinks Show? Want to hear it again? Listen here [LINK]

When did it become so fashionable to eat just the thinnest of asparagus spears, barely steamed? Especially if they are farm-fresh, I prefer the fat, meatier spears, which give me more to sink my teeth into, and I like to char them slightly under the broiler. 

Asparagus—like plenty of other things—is delicious with the traditional Spanish romesco sauce, but the latter requires fresh tomatoes, which where I live aren’t in season as early as asparagus. So I improvise, using put-up or store-bought salsa instead of tomatoes. Salsa verde (for which I have a killer recipe in Serve Yourself) turns the sauce a gorgeous cream color (hence the “blanco”) and adds a hint of spice, while fresh mint keeps things, well, fresh. 

You may have slightly more sauce than you need, but it keeps for several days, covered, in the refrigerator. Thin it out with a little more vinegar and oil, and you’ve got an excellent salad dressing for another day. 

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon sliced or slivered almonds 

6 to 8 fat asparagus spears 

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil 

Sea salt 

2 tablespoons salsa verde, homemade or store-bought 

½ small slice bread, preferably stale, torn into small pieces 

2 large mint leaves 

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, plus more as needed 

2 teaspoons water, plus more as needed 

½ cup warm cooked brown basmati rice or another grain 

METHOD

Sprinkle the almonds into a small skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the almonds have darkened and become fragrant, just a few minutes. Immediately transfer them to a plate to cool; if you leave them to cool in the pan, they can burn. 

Set the oven to broil, and arrange a rack to be 5 or 6 inches from the flame. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and discard them (or reserve them for vegetable stock), and toss the asparagus with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Broil until the asparagus blackens in spots and the spears just barely bend when you lift them, about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the freshness and size of the asparagus. 

Remove from the oven. While the asparagus is broiling, combine the salsa verde with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the almonds, bread, mint, vinegar, and water in the bowl of a small food processor or blender, and puree until smooth, adding a little more water if the mixture seems too thick. 

Taste and add salt and vinegar as desired. Eat the asparagus over the rice with about ¼ cup of the sauce spooned on top.

For more information on Joe Yonan visit here [LINK]

Joe also shares his recipe for Minty Pea Soup with Pea and Feta Toast here [LINK]

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