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Toasted Couscous with Asparagus Pesto

Asparagus is roasted in the oven and then made into a pesto that is served over Israeli couscous that is toasted before cooking.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword asparagus
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 servings


  • 1 bunch of asparagus about 1 lb
  • 1 cup Israeli style couscous
  • cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ head roasted garlic
  • ¼ cup to ⅓ cup olive oil plus more for roasting and toasting
  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds shelled
  • 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, sunflower seeds, 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 ¼ 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.