Flavour of the Month: Roasted Asparagus with Romesco Sauce
This month, Jess, our resident Nutritionist focuses on food that is good for the gut. She has been roasting and whizzing ingredients for her tasty take on a Spanish classic – roasted asparagus with Romesco sauce. An easy recipe to prepare ahead and enjoy as a meal, or as a veggie side dish.
Did you know our physical and mental health can be affected by the balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut? We can help look after our gut through a balanced diet, including foods that promote beneficial bacteria:
Prebiotics – high fibre foods e.g. vegetables, legumes, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Asparagus is a rich source of prebiotic fibre and antioxidants – see our recipe below.
Probiotics – live good bacteria in naturally fermented foods.
Here are my personal favourites, which can be purchased in Wholefoods, Planet Organic, Waitrose and online:
Kombucha: enjoy as a drink
Recipe: Roasted Asparagus with Romesco Sauce
This robust Spanish sauce is extremely versatile – a great topping for fish, prawns, chicken or roast vegetables (e.g. leeks or asparagus), or toss with pasta or stir into couscous. It’s easy to make and can be prepared ahead.
Serves: 4 -6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Shelf life: Keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days (so it’s a good one to prep for a busy week ahead)
Vegan & gluten-free
6 plum tomatoes
1 large red pepper, halved & deseeded
1 red chilli, halved & deseeded
1 whole head (bulb) of garlic
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
100g whole blanched almonds (or hazelnuts)
2 slices day-old bread (gluten-free if preferred)
½ tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
Salt & pepper
400g medium thick asparagus spears
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
80g parmesan cheese (or vegan cheese)
You will first need to roast all the ingredients, then just whizz them in a food processor/blender.
- Preheat the oven to 220˚C (200˚C for fan oven)
- On a baking tray lined with foil, place whole tomatoes, chilli and pepper halves skin-side up. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Cut garlic in half crossways, place on a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper; wrap in foil and place parcel on the baking tray with the other vegetables.
- Roast in oven until the vegetables are tender. This will take 30 minutes in total, but some cook quicker than others, so follow the time plan below and remove them from the oven as they are ready.
- While the veg are cooking, spread the nuts over a separate baking tray & roast until they are lightly toasted (6-7 minutes). Leave to cool.
- Fry the bread slices in an oiled frying pan until lightly toasted.
- Remove chilli and tomatoes after about 10 minutes, once the tomato skins have split and juices start to run out.
Remove garlic after 20 minutes, when it should be very soft. Squeeze out all the garlic.
Remove pepper after 30 minutes, when skin is blackened. When it’s cool enough to handle, you should be able to easily remove and discard the skins.
- Put ingredients in blender or food processor: tomatoes (including skins), pepper, chilli, garlic puree and the pieces of toasted bread. Add the paprika and vinegar. Whizz until smooth, or pulse if you prefer to retain some texture. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the nuts to the processor/blender and pulse until coarsely chopped. Stir the nuts and 2 tbsp oil into the bowl of veg mixture; season with salt and pepper.
- Keep the sauce warm until you need it. Or leave it to cool and store in fridge for up to 3 days.
This is one of the easiest ways of cooking asparagus.
- Discard woody ends and then coat the asparagus spears with 1 tbsp olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on a baking tray lined with foil.
- Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the asparagus is just tender and slightly charred in places.
Spread a thick layer of warm Romesco sauce on a serving plate; arrange the asparagus on top and finish with parmesan shavings. Dive in!
Find out more:
Food Moods – Be good to your gut!
The gut-brain connection & the role of nutrition: how we can manage our mood with food