Make it Naked


Roasted Asparagus with Walnut Crema

I want so badly to tell you that what you’re about to read didn’t really happen and that I made it up for the sake of entertainment. But that’s not the case.

Yesterday I found myself locked in a Target fitting room. Me, my purse and three shirts. This was pretty ironic, considering that my New Year’s resolution was to try and cut back on a habit of impulse buying, and all I really needed from Target was three birthday cards. I sat there, confused for a moment and in a slight panic, and thought about what to do. I had my phone. I could update my facebook status: Locked in Target fitting room. Please help. But fearful of how many of my friends would “like” it, I thought maybe I should tweet instead, but I was pretty sure all 17 of my followers could care less. The thought of using my phone to actually make a phone call seemed too logical (or… didn’t cross my mind). I could yell “Help,” but that would probably just turn into a growing cluster of chuckling, red-shirted employees as the news spread through walkie-talkies.

It felt like hours, and I sat there wondering how many pieces of gum from my purse I could chew to make a meal. But then, it hit me. This was happening for a reason. The New Year’s Resolution gods were sending me a message. I shouldn’t have even been in the fitting room to begin with. Obviously, I really wish I hadn’t been. OK, so it worked. I kept to my resolution and did what any normal adult would do…I left my merchandise hanging, grabbed my purse and crawled under the door.

So, I can happily say that I’m not a resolution failure, not yet anyway, and I don’t want you to be either. Maybe it’s because I’ve stuffed you full of cookies, cake and booze, but I’ve been hearing a few popular resolutions to eat healthier, eat more vegetables, or shed a few pounds. This recipe just might help with all of those.

Crisp, colorful asparagus is roasted in olive oil and served on top of a walnut crema. What’s a crema and how does moving the “a” around in “cream” make it healthy? It’s a blend of walnuts, olive oil, red onion, and here I added rosemary. It’s a double dose of healthy fat blended into a smooth, creamy base. Perfect for adding a little something special to an ordinary vegetable dish.

Although it took a little divine intervention and a lot of embarrassment for me to keep my resolution, I’m hoping all it takes to keep you on track is a good healthy recipe. So go ahead and tell your friends you’re making a crema – they’ll probably look at you like you just crawled out from under a fitting room door.

Roasted Asparagus with Walnut Crema (Recipe adapted from A16 Food+Wine )

Walnut Crema:

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups walnuts
¾ cup diced red onion
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for sautéing
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (no need to chop)
½ teaspoon of Kosher salt, plus more for water

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the walnuts and let cook for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Using a ladle, reserve ¼ cup of the walnut cooking water in a bowl to the side. Drain the walnuts and set aside to cool.
  3. In a sauté pan, add a little olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) over medium heat and cook the onions until golden brown. Once brown, set aside.
  4. In a food processor combine the walnuts, the ¼ cup of cooking water and the onions. Process until creamy. It will take about 5 minutes. I know this seems long but the longer you process, the more creamy it will get. While processing, slowly add in the olive oil. Add the rosemary and process until blended throughout the crema.

Roasted Asparagus

 

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs of asparagus
½ cup walnuts, toasted (see this post for a reference on how to toast nuts)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
pinch of kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
pecorino, parmesan or romano cheese, for grating on top

Directions:

  1. Trim the stem end off each spear of asparagus. You can do this by bending the spear near the bottom and snapping off the stem end.
  2. Preheat the oven 350°. On a baking sheet, lay the asparagus out and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 8-10 minutes.
  3. On a platter, spoon the crema along the bottom, top with the asparagus, toasted walnuts and a few shavings of cheese. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. The crema might sound fancy, but it is really easy and can be used in a number of dishes. Serve it as a dip with fresh vegetables, spread it on sandwiches, or toss it with pasta for a different kind of white sauce.
  2. Asparagus is great, but other roasted vegetables would work just as well. Next time I might try an eggplant variation.
  3. The crema can be kept for up to a week in the refrigerator, which is REALLY great news in the event you are stuck in a fitting room.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


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Posted on January 5, 2011


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