Asparagus with Sun-dried Tomato Romesco

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Spring might have sprung over a month ago, but the seasonal shift with regards to our dinner plates didn’t really happen until now – with the first asparagus of the year. They’re almost holy, the very first spears we dig into! And the more precious the vegetable, the simpler preparation we tend to prefer – I mean, a peak season ear of corn just slathered in some butter and salt? New potatoes boiled with dill? Sugar snap peas just as is? And who thinks a still-warm-from-the-sun tomato needs any additions? Asparagus definitely belongs to the same category. Sautéed or grilled with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt is by far our go-to way of preparation, and it satisfies us each and every time. A delicious dip or sauce on the side could both make the presentation a bit prettier and the flavor buds even happier, however – so that’s what we’ve done here. We love different versions of romesco sauce any day, and made it here with sun-dried tomatoes as the main ingredient. The saltiness of them goes perfectly with the crunchy, earthy asparagus spears (without overpowering anything) and, well, lends a simple yet elegant spring dish. Whether you serve it as a stand-alone first course or as part of a main dish, we’ll let you decide. We hope you’ll like it!

Serves 4 as a first course or appetizer

1/2 dl toasted almonds (~30 g)
1 slice bread (~25 g), crust removed and torn into small pieces (think sourdough/country loaf type of deal)
6 sun-dried tomatoes (~60 g), roughly chopped
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp + a drizzle of olive oil
1 dl water
1/4 tsp sambal oelek
250 g asparagus
Black pepper

  1. Reserve 10-12 almonds for serving, and then go ahead and place the rest in a food processor. Add the bread, sun-dried tomatoes, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, water and sambal oelek. Blend until smooth. No additional salt should be needed thanks to the sun-dried tomatoes, so season to taste with black pepper only. Set aside. Then slice the reserved almonds thinly and set aside as well.
  2. Over high heat, sauté the asparagus spears in a tiny drizzle of olive oil (avoid any greasiness) for a few minutes or until they’ve taken on a few char marks.
  3. For serving, place a dollop of sauce on the plate and top with asparagus and a sprinkle of almonds.

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