Roasted Asparagus with Romesco Sauce & Lentils (Vegan, Gluten Free)
Every year asparagus season rolls around. And every year finding the first stalk peering cautiously above ground is like getting an early Christmas present. That moment came and went, as golden and fleeting as a first kiss. But, to my dismay, our patch has been pretty low-yielding so far this season.
We keep our garden and yard pretty lax most of the year. So our asparagus patch is, um, mostly violets at this point. Our asparagus crowns (the deep roots) are at least four years old by this point. So we should be getting fat aspara-guys on the daily. But it’s been pretty dry in Virginia. Alas, asparagus and mushroom foragers alike are pouting hard right about now. Morrel season was a total bust, too. So, no vegan pizza with wild mushrooms and foraged asparagus for me. It’s a pity party up in here and you’re invited.
So all of the wispy asparagus I have harvested from my asparagus bed have gone straight into my mouth. No dressing. Hell, I don’t even wash them. I practically eat them while they’re still in the earth.
Needless to say, I’m in full on asparagus ravaging mode. I went shopping on 4/20 and… no I wasn’t stoned. ;)
There in the featured seasonal produce section by the front door was a huge pile of sparkling, dewy purple asparagus. Guess what they were called.
And I was just like c’moooooon I can’t not!
Those babies were destined to meet the sweet steamy kiss of my 400 degree oven. Followed by a slathering in romesco.
I’ve had this romesco sauce on the brain for weeks. I made a soup a while back — tomato based with lentils, spinach and coconut cream — and I added almond butter to the base. It was DOPE. This is how I knew I had to get some relatively more legit and traditional romesco in my life.
I found a great recipe from Lindsay Love (aka Dolly and Oatmeal) via Food52. The heart of that sauce is roasted red peppers, toasted nuts and tahini. But I did a little riff and jig with it. I added blackened roasted cherry tomatoes. And, to make it super simple & ensure creaminess, I used almond butter instead of toasted nuts. Plus a little bit of smoked paprika for depth.
All in all, this roasted asparagus with romesco and lentils is easy, exploding with flavor and hearty as hell. Especially if you serve it over a grain of some sort — I ate it with cooked sprouted brown rice and it was super filling. There’s almost no other way I want to eat asparagus right now, beyond raw or woven into a sexy pizza situation. The coconut-oil roasted asparagus is so buttery and sweet I could DIE.
Enjoy and leave me a comment if you make this recipe! As always, tag your creations and variations #willfrolicforfood so I can see!
Roasted Asparagus with Romesco Sauce and French Lentils
When I make this for myself I often use pre-cooked french lentils that I buy from Trader Joes. It just makes this whole shebang that much easier. Add a cooked grain as well to make this meal go really far. With rice, it was about 6-7 servings.
Prep Time: 5 mins - Cook Time: 23 mins
2 lbs asparagus (I used 1 lb green 1 lb purple)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1 red pepper, halved
1 cup cherry tomatoes (or any low-water tomato like Roma)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt + more to taste
2 cups cooked french lentils (cook according to your preference)
to serve (optional, but awesome): 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh raw salad greens, cooked brown rice
Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut of the hard ends of the asparagus. Then spread the asparagus out on the baking sheet. Toss with the melted coconut oil, lemon, minced garlic, pepper and salt. If you’re asparagus is cold from the fridge, work quickly as the coconut oil will solidify. Pop the asparagus in the oven and cook for 18 mins or until fork tender and beginning to crisp. Then remove from the oven and cover until ready to serve.
To make the sauce, set the oven to broil. Line another large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set your peppers and tomatoes on the baking sheet. Broil for 3-5 minutes, flipping the pepper halves every 30 seconds until the outsides start to blacken. The tomatoes will pop (I find this hilarious) so be careful of their wily juices! It’s OK if the tomatoes start to blacken, it gives the sauce extra flavor!
Once the pepper is blackening on the outside, remove the veg from the oven. Place the pepper in a bowl and cover with a tight fitting lid or plastic wrap for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Peel the skin off of the red pepper and remove the green top, seeds and white pith.
Add the pepper to the bowl of a high powered blender along with the tomatoes, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, almond butter, garlic, smoked paprika and salt. Blend until creamy.
To serve, spread your asparagus out on your plates, top with lentils, romesco sauce and sliced tomatoes. If you’re serving with salad greens and rice, plate those first. Dig in!