I had a little taste of Asheville, North Carolina waiting for me when I returned to New Orleans last week. It wasn’t a warm mochas or a drinkable caramel, sadly… but those are fleeting anyhow. I found my friend Ashley’s book Handmade Gatherings waiting for my in my mailbox! The very same Ashley that writes about chickens and bees, and had me in a stone-bottomed river bed pretending to be warm for a Spring picnic photoshoot. Needles to say, Ashley is always welcome in my world. I usually just need boots, a sweater, and an empty stomach.
I found this recipe flipping through the Spring pages of Handmade Gatherings. Asparagus meets pistachios. Roasted tender and crunchy. Green on green. Salty and fresh. From the recipe title alone I knew it would be exactly right.
Spot on! This is dish is all balance and heart. Good timing. I was just starting to miss those endless waves of green-blooming Blue Ridge Mountains. Asparagus will step in where the mountain-longing creeps in.
Let’s get started. Asparagus is deliciously appropriate these days. I like these big-boy stalks for this recipe. The bigger the asparagus, the more pistachios stick!
Stalks are rinsed, trimmed, and lined up in a single layer… a mostly single layer.
Off to the oven we go. The stalks should be bone-dry before drizzled with olive oil.
It takes a really long time to shell pistachios for a recipe. It’s weird. Like you’re forced to eat every other nut that you shell.
It takes hours. Good luck getting there.
Once the nuts are shelled, they’re pulverized in a food processor. Good and ground. Salt is added.
I’m still getting used to this view. It feels like an extra treat to have new cookbooks join me.
Also… so many parades outside. So many.
Drizzled in olive oil and crusted big-time.
The colors alone tell you that asparagus and pistachios are a match made in heaven.
While the asparagus and pistachio roast, I made the vinaigrette. It’s simple and zippy: olive oil, lemon vinegar, and honey. Salt and pepper. Easy on the salt. Heavy on the pepper.
Fresh from the oven the roasted vegetables are drizzled with vinaigrette and topped with feta and fresh parsley.
Just like that this asparagus is everything.
The stalks are warm, tender, and just slightly sweet coated in a salty pistachio crunch. Feta is cold, crumbled, and super salty. Parsley adds a kick of fresh and bright, complimenting the lemon in the vinaigrette. It’s really wonderfully balanced in both flavor and texture.
I know it’s just asparagus… but this dish is totally hard to share.
Consider pouring yourself a glass of chilled pink wine and just getting down with the entire pan. It really is hard to resist.
Pistachio Crusted Asparagus with Feta
adapted slightly from Handmade Gatherings by Ashley English
For the Asparagus:
2 pounds large asparagus
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup shelled roasted and unsalted pistachios
1 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
For the Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
pinch of sea salt
several grinds of black pepper
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Rinse the asparagus and cut about an inch off of the stem ends. Pat the asparagus dry.
Place the asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 5 minutes to dry the asparagus completely. Remove from the oven and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat.
Crush the pistachios in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. If you don’t have a food processor, you can crush the pistachios in a sealed plastic bag using a hammer or kitchen mallet. Grind until fine. Transfer nuts to a small bowl and stir in salt. If your nuts are salted, use half the amount of salt.
Arrange the asparagus in a single layer. Generously spoon the pistachio mixture over the asparagus. Flip the asparagus (it might be a little awkward, it’s ok) and cover the other side in remaining pistachio.
Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
To make the vinaigrette, in a small jar or bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Drizzle over the roasted asparagus just before serving. Top with feta and parsley and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.