People are creatures of habit. They like to do the same thing over and over again. This is especially true in the kitchen. I am not saying there isn’t something wrong with that, but you could be missing out. I am also looking for new ways to use vegetables. Simply roasting asparagus in the oven is great but what other things may also be great. This spring I am looking to expand my asparagus horizons with new recipes. Like this recipe you are about to read about toasted couscous with asparagus pesto.
Pesto is another thing I have been trying to expand my horizons with. Most people think that pesto equals basil. Pesto can be made from other green veggies. I have done it with kale which got my kids eating kale. I want to try it with spinach once I get my spinach crop growing. This past week I did it with asparagus. This recipe begins with my standard of roasting the asparagus but ends in something much different.
To prep the asparagus for roasting, set the oven to 400 degrees and drizzle some olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper on top.
The biggest challenge of roasting asparagus is not burning the tips. So if the tips look like their done in the oven and not the stems, I just cover the tips with some aluminium foil.
I then cut the tips off the asparagus and slice the stems into pieces. They go in the food processor along with some roasted garlic and Parmesan cheese. Once you combine that you drizzle in the olive oil until you get the desire consistency you want.
A good tip to keep the pesto looking a nice light green color is to squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.
You can serve the pesto with any type of pasta you like. I wanted to do couscous this time for a nice side dish. I used the larger Israeli style couscous. I like it because you can toast it in a frying pan before adding any liquid. This gives the couscous that toasty flavor. Once you have done it you won’t ever want to skip this step again.
This made enough for my wife and I to have as a side dish. Double or triple the recipe for a larger crowd.
Toasted Couscous with Asparagus Pesto
- 1 bunch of asparagus about 1 lb
- 1 cup Israeli style couscous
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 head roasted garlic
- 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup olive oil plus more for roasting and toasting
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
To prepare the pesto
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Cut off the woody ends of the asparagus, Save the ends for stock, soup, or compost.
Place them on a sheet pan. Drizzle on some oilve oil, then sprinkle on kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
Take half a head of garlic (or the whole head and save half of it for a later use), wrap it in foil and place it in the oven along with the asparagus.
Roast for about 15-20 minutes until asparagus is brown and has softened. Check half way through to set if the tips are starting to brown and cover then with aluminum foil. Check if the garlic has softened, leave it oven for a little longer if needed.
Allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting off the tips. Set them aside. Then slice up the stems into bite sized pieces.
Place in your food processor, the roasted garlic, asparagus stem pieces, and Parmesan cheese, and the juice of half a lemon. Process to combine, making sure to scrap down the sides of the bowl at least once.
With the machine running drizzle in about 1/4 cup of olive oil. If it needs more to get to the right consistency you want, then drizzle in more slowly and keep checking. Add additional salt if needed.
To make the couscous
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of couscous. Stir often until the couscous smells toasty and has taken on some brown color.
Add 10 ounces of water. Turn the heat down to simmer. Cover and cook until the couscous has absorbed the water about 5 to 7 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Then add the pesto and reserved asparagus tips right to the pan. Serve hot.