Yup, it’s here folks! Summer that is – bam, from chilly rain and 50° F to 90° in the shade.
The pool’s the place to be and light, simple, scrumptious food is the perfect fare for lazy summer evenings, eating on the balcony.
This simple and delicious veggie selection with sweet and salty pesto can be made in under 40 minutes and was a crowd pleaser as an appetizer before grilled brats or as a vegetarian meal for a smaller crowd, served with crunchy baguette and cold dry white wine.
Since this was a Sunday evening last-minute recipe, I had no pine nuts in the house but a big jar of Turkish sunflowers seeds that I used instead – they taste different than pine nuts but their slightly smoky flavor went perfectly with the honey in the pesto and with the earthy fennel and green asparagus.
This is a recipe for 4 people – but you can increase the amounts to fit your crowd.
Baked Green Asparagus Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes with Honey Basil Pesto
Ingredients for the vegetables:
Ingredients for the marinade:
- sea salt
- 1 TBSP olive oil – extra
- 1 tsp honey – extra
- juice of ½ a lemon
Ingredients for the pesto:
- 1 bunch of fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup / 30 grams of finely grated Parmesan
- Zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 1 TBSP honey
- 1 ½ TSBP sunflowers seeds
- 1 tsp ground garammasala or ras-al-hanout spices
- ½ tsp harissa paste
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml olive oil
- 1 TSBP of fruit vinegar: apricot, sherry, cranberry
- 1 scallion chopped
- 1 clove garlic – optional or less
Putting it all together – the vegetables:
Wash, trim the end of the stalks and lightly peel the bottom third of the asparagus, lay them evenly next to each other on a baking sheet covered with baking paper.
Wash and half the tomatoes and lay them face up next to the asparagus.
Wash the fennel, remove any hard stalks or outer leaves and cut off the hard bottom. Using a very sharp knife cut the fennel in half from top to bottom. Now cut thin diagonal slices. Separate the slices somewhat and place them next to the tomatoes and asparagus in a thin layer. Set the sheet aside. Preheat the oven to 180° C / 360 ° F convection heat.
Putting it all together – the honey basil pesto:
Wash the basil leaves remove them from the stems and whirl them dry in a salad spinner. Chop the scallion and the garlic. Place the garlic, scallions, cheese, harissa, spices, half the olive oil, the lemon zest and the sunflower seeds in the food processor and blend until smooth about 2 minutes. Open the top and add the basil leaves, the rest of the olive oil (except for the 1 extra tablespoon), the lemon juice, fruit vinegar and a ½ teaspoon of salt. Close and blend until smooth about another 3 minutes. Taste and add oil if too thick or more harrissa or honey to your taste.
Remove ½ of the pesto to a bowl and add the extra olive oil, lemon juice and honey. Whisk well to combine. Use a pastry brush to brush and sprinkle the vegetables with the marinade. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve as is with the rest of the pesto on the side and crispy baguette.
Happy summer everyone!