Easy Asparagus Recipe with Tomato-Olive Salsa
This easy asparagus recipe is so simple to make. Asparagus stalks are briefly steamed, then topped with a brightly flavored tomato and olive salsa, seasoned with za’atar spice blend, fresh garlic, and vinegar or fresh lemon juice.
How to Choose Asparagus
Asparagus is in season mainly in the spring. Stalks picked at peak of ripeness are tender and sweet tasting. Choose asparagus bunches that are being kept in water at the farmers market or grocery store, and not floppy or wilted. When selecting a bunch of asparagus, pick one containing stalks of a similar size, so that they cook at the same rate. To clean asparagus, snap off the bottom portion of the stem, as it is generally woody and tough.
My steamer basket does not fit asparagus, as the stalks are too long. To steam, I use a saute pan, put a small amount of water in the bottom of it, and lay the asparagus in the pan. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, cover, bring to a boil and steam for about three minutes. Remove the asparagus from the pan just before the stalks are fork tender, as they will continue to cook when removed from the pan. Let cool slightly, then top with tomato-olive salsa. Asparagus may also be roasted (toss in olive oil first) in a 425°F oven for 12-15 minutes, depending on the size of the stalks.
Za’atar Spice Recipe
Za’atar spice is a common spice blend used in middle eastern cuisines. It is something that is easily made at home, and the recipe varies from household to household. My favorite za’atar spice blend is as follows: one tablespoon freshly minced oregano, one tablespoon sumac, one tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, and 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt. Mix ingredients together in a small bowl and use throughout the week.
This tomato-olive salsa can be to spruce up so many things, from pasta to fish to meat to roast potatoes. Serve this easy asparagus recipe with tomato-olive salsa alongside Turkish-style cauliflower rice pilaf, and chicken with tomatoes and honey for a hearty meal.
The bright flavors of the tomato-olive salsa complement the sweet tender asparagus stalks.
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup pitted olives (choose your favorite kind)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon capers
- 1 Tablespoon za'atar spice (see note) or 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- pinch fine sea salt
- 1 bunch asparagus
- thinly sliced fennel
- thinly sliced onion
- cubed feta cheese
- chopped artichoke hearts
- crushed red pepper flakes
Cut tomatoes into quarters lengthwise. Roughly chop olives. Mince garlic and capers. Make za'atar spice blend.
In a bowl, toss together tomatoes, olives, za'atar spice, white wine vinegar, minced garlic and capers, olive oil, pepper, and salt.
Lightly steam asparagus, cooking until slightly underdone (it will continue to cook when removed from heat). Place on a platter and garnish with tomato-olive salsa.
Salsa recipe makes more than enough for one bunch of asparagus, and can easily be used over pasta, combined with a can of tuna, or mixed with shredded cooked chicken.
Make your own za'atar spice blend by combining 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, 1 tablespoon ground sumac, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, and 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt.