fire roasted asparagus with cilantro, orange and cumin pesto

by Heguiberto on March 30, 2010

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We had this asparagus recipe for the first time a couple of years ago. Prepared by our talented (and recently engaged!) dear friend Kristen, we fell in love with it immediately and have been making it since.

fire roasted asparagus with cilantro, orange and cumin pesto

Taking advantage of the spring and the start of asparagus season, the time of year when these spears taste best, I made it for dinner last Sunday to enjoy with Steven, Deby and Xanthe.

It takes a bit of time but I guarantee you will love it. I like to serve it at parties because of its stunning look. The dish is versatile and can match with anything really. You and your guests will oooh and aaah over the layers of flavor; ranging from tangy, to spicy, to sweet and savory.

some key ingredients for fire roasted asparagus with cilantro, orange and cumin pesto

Fire Roasted Asparagus with Cilantro, Orange and Cumin Pesto

2-3 lb fresh asparagus (~30 spears)
1 Italian loaf cut into 1½ inch thick slices
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup fresh juice (about 5 oranges*)
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/3 cup almond oil
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
¼ cup olive oil
½ bunch chopped chives
1 fresh garlic clove, mashed or pressed
1 cup parmesan cheese, shaved into thin slivers
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare pesto:

Juice oranges and pour liquid into a small pan. Simmer to reduce until about ½ cup. Let cool completely.

Place cumin seeds on a hot skillet and toast for about a minute or till aromatic. Transfer to a mortar and pulverize.

Add reduced orange juice, cilantro, cumin, almond oil, cayenne pepper, salt and lemon juice to food processor and pulse for few seconds till all ingredients are blended. Taste and adjust flavors with more salt, pepper or lemon juice as desired.

To prepare asparagus:

Cut bottom bit of asparagus off. If the stalks are thick, using a potato peeler, peel outer rough layer off lower portion of each stalk. Blanch asparagus by boiling or steaming for about 3-4 minutes or till al dente, then immediately remove from pan and submerging in ice water to stop cooking and to preserve a bright green color.

Drain asparagus. Add salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to asparagus and toss to coat.

Pre-heat grill to 450F. Place asparagus and bread on grill and roast them for 3 to 4 minutes, turning occasionally. Asparagus may require a little extra grilling to get those nice brown marks. Remove from grill.

Cut toasted bread into 1×1 inch cubes.

To assemble:

Place asparagus and bread on a large platter. Add chives, garlic and parmesan shavings then toss by hand. Add cilantro pesto and toss again. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and serve. Yum! I even enjoyed the leftovers the next day at work.

*For the best flavor, your orange juice must come from oranges, not bottles or cans. For the same reason, it is crucial that you toast and grind your cumin seeds rather than use pre-ground cumin.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

tasteofbeirut March 31, 2010 at 11:25 am

What an unusual and delicious dressing! I can’t wait to try it! I have never imagined oranges and cumin together! definitely one to try.

Heguiberto March 31, 2010 at 1:33 pm

It is really good. Do follow my advice using fresh orange juice plus toast and grind your own cumin for this recipe.
These two key ingredients make a big difference in the end result.

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