We usually steam asparagus and serve it without any olive oil or salt. We love it plain.
But, for special occasions it is nice to dress it up. We used a recipe from my father’s cookbook, The Ultimate Cookbook for a birthday dinner.
The hazelnuts add that extra crunch. We toasted ours in the oven on an iron skillet at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes until they were a darker brown color. Toss the hazelnuts and the sauce with the asparagus and then add the minced red peppers on top.
Asparagus with Toasted Hazelnuts
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes
½ cup shelled hazelnuts
4 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, slivered
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of thin (1/4 inch or less in diameter) asparagus,ends trimmed
Minced red bell pepper for garnish
Place a skillet on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Toast the hazelnuts, stirring constantly, until they begin to turn brown. Pour the nuts into a small bowl. Return the skillet to the heat. Melt the butter and add the slivered garlic. Stir, watching closely, until the garlic turns light brown on the edges. Add the sherry, apple juice, salt and pepper. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, until the alcohol cooks away. Remove the skillet from the heat. In a large steamer basket, steam the asparagus for 3 to 5 minutes. They should be tender but still crisp. Immediately add the asparagus and nuts to the sauce in the skillet. Turn all the ingredients with a spatula to coat well. Garnish with minced red bell pepper. Yield: 4 servings.