Roasted Asparagus with Walnut Crema and Pecorino

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This recipe is simplicity at its finest.

Vertical top-down image of a white plate of asparagus surrounded by walnuts, cheese, and a white towel on a gray wooden surface.

With just a few ingredients, you can make an easy and elegant vegetable dish to accompany any special meal.

Asparagus is a unique delight, especially when roasted. While the outside of the stalk stays just a little firm and lightly charred, the inside is so tender, almost buttery. And the feathery tips cook to a light and crispy texture that’s delicate enough to swiftly dissolve when you’re eating them.

Vertical close-up image of a plate of asparagus with a tan sauce and nuts and cheese on a gray wooden surface.

Clearly, there’s no doubt that any roasted veggie is perfect when eaten on its own, with just a bit of salt and pepper.

But for a different experience, serve these soft and beautifully blistered spears with walnut crema, a thick and creamy sauce made by processing together walnuts, sautéed onions, olive oil, and a hint of lemon zest.

Sprinkle with toasted walnuts and shaved pecorino cheese for that perfect final touch.

Vertical top-down image of a plate of asparagus surrounded by nuts and cheese on a white towel with a fork on a gray wooden surface.

You can choose to serve this dish family-style, with a large pile of asparagus on top of a dollop of crema. But if you are aiming to impress guests, release your inner dinner party warrior, and create individual plates.

A small, artful smear of the sauce, with five or six spears strategically placed on top, daintily garnished with a few pieces of toasted nuts and cheese…

Yup. Totally be that person.

The Recipe

Square image of asparagus and a sauce on a white plate.
The Best Roasted Asparagus with Walnut Crema and Pecorino
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You: 5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Embody simple sophistication for your next vegetable dish with this recipe for roasted asparagus, walnut crema, and pecorino cheese.
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Square image of asparagus and a sauce on a white plate.
The Best Roasted Asparagus with Walnut Crema and Pecorino
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You: 5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Embody simple sophistication for your next vegetable dish with this recipe for roasted asparagus, walnut crema, and pecorino cheese.
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Ingredients
For the Walnut Crema:
  • 1 cup raw walnuts plus 1/2 cup for final garnish
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/2 small red onion chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Asparagus:
  • 3 bunches asparagus (about 30 spears)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 pound Pecorino Romano shaved
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
For the Walnut Crema:
  1. Heat a medium pot of water to boil. Add 1 cup walnuts and boil them for 8-10 minutes, or until very tender. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Set the nuts and reserved liquid aside.
  2. In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, until golden-brown and softened. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. In a food processor or blender, add the walnuts, 1/4 cup reserved cooking water, lemon zest, and cooked onions. Process until creamy. With the motor running, slowly add 1/2 cup of olive oil, completely blending with the other ingredients. If it looks too thick, add a little more of the reserved cooking water. Add salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
For the Asparagus:
  1. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Line two baking sheets with foil.
  2. Remove the tough ends from the asparagus spears, rinse, and dry the asparagus. Divide them between the two prepared baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat, rearranging them in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for about 8-10 minutes, flipping the asparagus once, until they are slightly blistered and tender.
  4. Meanwhile, place the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts in a pan on low heat. Toast, stirring constantly, until they are slightly browned and fragrant.
  5. To serve, spoon the crema across the bottom of a platter, and arrange the asparagus spears on top. Sprinkle the pecorino and toasted walnuts over the asparagus. Serve immediately while warm.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Orangette.

Nutritional Info*

Nutrition Facts
The Best Roasted Asparagus with Walnut Crema and Pecorino
Amount Per Serving
Calories 392 Calories from Fat 351
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 39g 60%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Polyunsaturated Fat 10g
Monounsaturated Fat 18g
Cholesterol 19mg 6%
Sodium 405mg 17%
Potassium 158mg 5%
Total Carbohydrates 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 2g
Protein 7g 14%
Vitamin A 6%
Vitamin C 5%
Calcium 17%
Iron 6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Gather and Prep Ingredients

Horizontal image of a cutting board with chopped asparagus and red onions with a knife on a gray wooden surface.

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Line two baking sheet pans with foil or parchment paper. You can also use a silicone mat. Set out a large pot, a medium skillet, and a small skillet.

Set out the walnuts, olive oil, cheese, and salt and pepper.

Using a zester or microplane, grate the lemon peel.

Snap off the ends of the asparagus. Wash and dry them well. Using a sharp knife and a sturdy cutting board, chop the red onion into a small dice.

Step 2 – Boil the Walnuts

Horizontal image of a plate of walnuts and a bowl of tan liquid on a gray wooden surface.

Fill the large pot with water, and bring to a boil on the stovetop.

Add 1 cup walnuts, and boil them for 8-10 minutes, or until very tender. Remove from the water and set aside. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Ensure that the nuts are tender – the soft texture will help them blend better into a smooth sauce in the next step.

Step 3 – Make the Crema

Horizontal image of a skillet with cooked red onions on a gray wooden surface.

In the medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped red onions and cook for 5 minutes, until golden-brown and softened.

In a food processor or blender, add the walnuts, 1/4 cup reserved cooking water, and cooked onions. Process until creamy.

Horizontal image of a light tan sauce in a blender on a white wooden surface.

With the motor running, slowly add 1/2 cup of olive oil, blending to the texture of a very creamy hummus. If it looks too thick, add a little more of the reserved cooking water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Step 4 – Roast the Asparagus

Horizontal image of asparagus spears on a baking pan lined with a silicone mat on a gray wooden surface.

Spread the asparagus in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat, and season with salt and pepper.

Now would be a great time to use a new variety of salt you’ve been thinking of purchasing. There’s so many to try! Read up on some of the best foodie salts to use in cooking.

Roast for about 8-10 minutes, flipping the spears over once, until they are slightly blistered and tender when pierced with a fork.

Step 5 – Toast the Walnuts

Horizontal image of a skillet with toasted walnuts on a gray wooden surface.

Heat the small skillet on low heat. Add the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts and toast, stirring constantly, until they are lightly browned and fragrant.

Be careful to not burn them! Stay with the pan, resisting any urges to leave or do something else. They only need a minute or so to be perfectly toasted.

Step 6 – Assemble and Serve

Horizontal image of a plate of walnut crema on a gray wooden surface.

On your serving platter, spoon the crema across the bottom.

Horizontal top-down image of a plate of asparagus surrounded by nuts and cheese on a white towel with a fork on a gray wooden surface.

Place the spears of asparagus on top. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the pecorino generously over the platter, and sprinkle the toasted walnuts on top of that. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Serve immediately while still warm.

A Simple, Easy, and Elegant Vegetable Side Dish

You don’t need a long list of ingredients to make a beautiful side dish for dinner.

As long as you have a delectably fresh vegetable, a hot oven, and a few other kitchen staples, you’re well on your way to becoming the classiest chef ever.

So, embody that sophistication, and impress your guests with this beautiful presentation of roasted asparagus, walnut crema, and pecorino cheese.

Horizontal image of a plate with asparagus, sauce, nuts, and cheese on a white towel.

If you love the taste of these green spears, be sure to check out our Asparagus Cooking Guide.

And feel free to substitute other vegetables for the asparagus – the flavor combinations would work perfectly with zucchini, broccoli, or green beans.

How do you take just a few ingredients and transform them into an amazing dish? What do you think of this nut-based sauce? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!


Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different views of a roasted asparagus with walnut cream and percorino cheese.

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on April 15th, 2009. Last updated: June 2, 2018 at 16:36 pm.

*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is a hungry foodie living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she is not tearing through her city's best grub, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

12 thoughts on “Roasted Asparagus with Walnut Crema and Pecorino

  1. lovely post, shanna. and i love asparagus! i hope your great uncle is ok, and i’m sure your visit will mean a lot to him.

  2. It’s very touching reading this as I am watching my father struggle with cancer and having seen many of my close relatives slowly leave this world… Cherish every moment you have.

  3. I came for the asparagus (thanks tastespotting!) and am so happy I did. Very touching post and a great reminder to live life to the fullest and spend as much time as we can with loved ones.

  4. Thanks everyone, for the kind responses.

    Meeso – I’m so sorry to hear about your father, and I prayed for your family when I read this.

    Maggie – Welcome and yes, I agree!

  5. I recently “discovered” asparagus, so I’m hoping to try this! Yum. Your post was very moving- I want to go hug all my loved ones now. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love roasted asparagus…your photos are fantastic, too! I found your blog from Jess @ Everyday Adventures and I’ll definitely be stopping back to read more.

    Also, my thoughts are with you and your family…I’m glad you were able to enjoy Easter together.

    Have a nice weekend!

  7. Sue – Your first comment! I see that you’ve gone and started your own little piece of the Internet, by the way, and I’m captivated. That gorgeous little girl might have something to do with it.

    Maris – Thanks so much for stopping by. Love Jess’s blog and glad to have you!

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