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Springtime Asparagus Side Dish

Happy spring, dear readers, and welcome again to the organic asparagus that can be found in abundance in March and April—in grocery stores, if not in your garden! My annual recipe addition to welcome spring always centers around asparagus, and this year’s installment includes a simple and delicious sauce for grilled or pan-seared asparagus. It’s perfect with any meal and ideal for Passover. The best part is that it’s fast, easy, and delicious! It’s also vegan and gluten-free.

I made the sauce with blanched almonds, as these are the preferred nuts, according to Ayurveda. They are lighter and easier to digest than some of my other favorites like cashews and pistachios! You can buy an eight-ounce package of organic slivered almonds to save time, or you can follow the Indian tradition of soaking almonds overnight. Then pull at the skins, which will slip off easily to discard.

If you remove the hard bottom third of the asparagus stalks before you store them in the refrigerator, this dish takes only 15 minutes from start to finish. Otherwise, anticipate another 5 minutes or more, depending on the quantity of asparagus. This sauce can also be a dip for veggie chips or a spread for toast or crackers. Try it on other favorite vegetables—broccoli and corn on the cob come to mind.  With a little extra water, it will be a lovely dipping sauce for an artichoke. You can tell I’m pretty jazzed about it!

Please note: I learned that the sauce doesn’t hold up when heated if you rewarm a dish. Cooking caused it to lose its zesty flavor, so it’s best poured room temperature over the hot asparagus. That little bit of heat will warm the sauce without sabotaging the dish. I started the first batch of this sauce in my Vitamix, but that didn’t seem like the best choice, as it’s more trouble to clean than a food processer. You can certainly make it either way.

As the beauty of the earth explodes in vibrant colors, I wish you the happiest spring and a plateful of delicious Asparagus with Blanched Almond Sauce!

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ASPARAGUS WITH BLANCHED ALMOND SAUCE

Preparation Time: About 15 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

This dish is shittengis, a Yiddish description my mother would use when preparing something with “a little bit of this and a little bit of that!” Once you process the almonds with the other ingredients, adjust the salt, garlic, lime, and herbs, adding more until it’s just right for your palate.

For the Sauce
8 ounces (about 2 cups) blanched almonds
1 cup water
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1 to 1½ teaspoons salt
½ cup fresh basil leaves
10 mint leaves
2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

For the Asparagus
1 to 2 pounds of asparagus
1 to 2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1. Make the sauce: Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix until well combined and the texture is smooth. Adjust the seasoning to taste. If you want to drizzle the sauce over a platter of vegetables (versus spooning some onto your plate), add a little more water and oil until the sauce is easy to pour from a small pitcher.

2. Prepare the asparagus: Heat a large sauté pan on medium to medium-high heat. Add the oil, and, after the oil is hot, add the asparagus. Add enough Bragg’s to add liquid that will steam the asparagus. (You may also want to add 1 tablespoon of water to the pan.) Cover the pan for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of asparagus and until the spears are just tender.

3. Remove the asparagus stalks from the pan as soon as they are tender. Place the asparagus in a serving dish or on dinner plates. Drizzle a generous amount of sauce over the asparagus or allow guests to add the sauce to their own plates from a separate dish.

 

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