Roasted Asparagus with Tomato-Almond Pesto and Fresh Cherry Tomatoes is a simple side dish. It’s inspired by the fresh cherry tomato and almond pesto known as Pesto Trapanese (in the style of Trapani). Though I doubt the Sicilians ever paired their signature sauce with asparagus, I think it’s a combination that works nicely.
- 2½ ounce lightly toasted almonds
- 1 pint halved cherry and/or grape tomatoes (about 25 to 30 dependeing on size)
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1-2 anchovy fillets (or to taste)
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- ¼ cup (plus 1 tablespoons) olive oil
- kosher salt and black pepper (as needed for seasonong)
- 2 pound medium asparagus
- shaved Parmesan cheese (as needed for garnish, optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Make the tomato-almond pesto: Put the almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse 15 or 20 times until roughly chopped. Add half of the halved tomatoes, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped anchovies, and red pepper flakes. Pulse the machine 8 or 10 more times. Then, with the machine running, use the feed tube to slowly add up to ¼ cup olive oil in a slow steady stream. The resulting pesto should be grainy but not too chunky, and wet enough to easily fall off of a spoon. You may not need all the oil. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Scrape the tomato-almond pesto into a large bowl; set aside.
Trim the ends off the asparagus then cut each spear into thirds or quarters. Place the cut asparagus onto a large rimmed, parchment-lined baking sheet in as close to a single layer as possible; toss with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil then season with salt and pepper. Roast in the heated oven about 6 minutes. Remove from oven and toss the asparagus spears to ensure even cooking. Return to oven and roast an additional 5 to 7 minutes until tender and just beginning to brown.
While still warm, move the roasted asparagus and any accumulated liquid to the large bowl with the tomato-almond pesto. Toss to combine. You might need to add a teaspoon of water to get the mixture moving and the asparagus well-coated. Let the mixture cool somewhat, then toss in the remaining tomato halves. Pile the asparagus and tomatoes onto a serving platter. Pass the shaved Parmesan cheese at the table as an optional garnish.