Serve with grilled flank steak or chicken breasts, and you'll have a fantastic weeknight dinner. Use asparagus that are medium-thick for this recipe--not pencil-thin spears. If you'd like to try this with a raw tomato sauce (especially when the fruits are at peak sweetness), just decrease water to 1 tablespoon and process all sauce ingredients together. For a less expensive and equally savory alternative to Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, try sheep's milk pecorino Romano.
2 pounds medium-thick asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into thirds
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
10 ounce small ripe cherry tomatoes, divided
3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted, coarsely chopped, and divided
Place asparagus on a baking sheet; toss with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil. Roast at 400°F for 12 to 15 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring twice. Remove from oven; cool on pan 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Cut 1 cup of tomatoes in half lengthwise (through the stem end), and place in bowl with asparagus and 2/3 cup walnuts; toss gently to combine.
Place remaining tomatoes in a small saucepan with 3 tablespoons water, anchovy, and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Cover and bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 12 minutes or until tomatoes burst. Remove pan from heat; cool slightly (about 5 minutes). Transfer tomato mixture to a food processor or blender; add salt, pepper, and remaining walnuts. Process until smooth. Pour over asparagus mixture, and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature 15 to 30 minutes for flavors to mingle. Arrange on a serving platter; sprinkle evenly with cheese.
Always nice to try something new with asparagus but we didn't really care for this sauce and wish we had served it hot vs. room temp. Probably won't make again but if I did, I'd use pine nuts instead of walnuts.
Made to recipe. Considered separately, everything was fine. I'm not sure how to describe it, but the salad was too "awkward" to eat, everything was completely separate from the rest. Half-globes of tomato, cylinders of asparagus, chunks of nuts -- as if we threw together leftovers.
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