Vegetable Recipes

Asparagus with Roasted Red Peppers and Toasted Pine Nuts 

Here is an idea I saw in a deli window over the holidays.  I’ve improvedit by using fresh ingredients, toasting the pine nuts and enhancing the presentation with perfectly diced peppers.  This is a colorful and tasty veggie side dish.  Prepare all three ingredients ahead of time and then assemble a la minute.  Way too many steps here for what is really a simple dish to prepare.  But lets do it all nicely.  Start by roasting the peppers!

Asparagus with Roasted Red Peppers and Toasted Pine Nuts

Yield:  4 servings

See Abbreviations, if needed

    • 2        red bell peppers
    • 5T     pine nuts
    • 1       bunch fresh asparagus (about 6-8
      spears per serving)
    •  S/P   to taste

For The Roasted Red Peppers:

1.  Roast the red bell peppers over a gas flame, on the grill or under the electric broiler, turning to char and blacken

2.  Place the roasted peppers in individual foil sheets, close up tight and let cool

3.  When cooled, scrape the charred skin off of each pepper using a paring knife

Tip  “Keep your Roasted Peppers Dry.”  You need water to clear away the mess created when scraping off the charred and blackened skin of a roasted bell pepper.  The usual method is to place the pepper under cool running water and scrape away the skin with a paring knife.  This method gets the job done but also results in an unholy mess and a slimy pepper.  The trick is to periodically clean off the paring knife under the running water while keeping the pepper, in hand, dry. The result is a still messy sink, but a nice dry skinned pepper.

4.  Cut open the peppers, remove seeds and white ribs and cut into wide rectangular strips

5.  Using your chefs knife, neatly cut 3/8-inch strips from the wide strips and then cut each strip into  perfect 3/8-inch X 3/8-inch diced pieces

6.  Place the diced peppers in a prep dish, cover and set aside

For the Pine Nuts:

7.  Heat a dry sauté pan to quite hot and then add the pine nuts

8.  Toss or stir the nuts until they begin to brown and give off the first whiff of toasted nuts.

9.  Transfer the nuts immediately from the hot pan to a prep dish.  If the nuts smell burned, throw them out and do ’em over

For the Asparagus:

10.  Trim off and discard the bottom few inches of the bunch.  Don’t bother to peel the asparagus

11.  Spray wash the trimmed asparagus

12.  Bring water to boil in the bottom of a double boiler

13.  Place the asparagus into the fitted colander top of the double boiler, cover and steam for five minutes

14.  While steaming, fill a SSB with ice and some water.  When the asparagus are done, transfer them from the colander into the ice water to cool and set their bright green color.  After a minute or so, fish the asparagus out of the ice water  and place all on  paper toweling to hold

For the Dish:

15.  Transfer the diced peppers (and the juice) to a small pan, add a little salt and heat gently

16.  Place the EVOO into a large heated sauté pan.  When medium hot, place in the asparagus spears, quickly add a little salt  and freshly ground pepper, and toss gently to thoroughly heat the spears, about 2 minutes

17.  Transfer and align about 7 spears to each heated serving plate, add a generous band of red peppers neatly across the spears  and then sprinkle on a couple of pinches of toasted pine nuts.

18.  Serve immediately with entrée.

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