Oven Roasted Asparagus

Oven Roasted Asparagus on a White Platter

Sometimes I get so caught up with sharing fancy recipes, that I forget about the simple things.

While blogs are awesome for finding new and unique recipes, sometimes you just need some basic weeknight inspiration. After all, it’s rare that we have time to cook a 2 or 3 hour meal on a weekday. What do foodies do on those days? They KISS- keep it simple, stupid!

Oven roasted vegetables are a weeknight staple in my house.

Right now, I’m all about roasting asparagus. It’s in its prime and on sale everywhere, and the spears cook up in less than 15 minutes. Can’t get any better than that!

Plus, oven roasting is as hands-off as you can get, freeing up your time (and hands) for cooking the main dish.

The best way to roast delicate spring veggies is to crank that oven up super high, and blast your them for just a few minutes. The high heat cooks them super quickly so you don’t get mushy veggies and gives them a nice tasty char.

There’s nothing better than crispy salty oven roasted asparagus tips.

Another trick is to make sure you season WELL. With simple sides like this, the only extra pop of flavor is coming from salt & pepper, so don’t skimp on your seasoning.

And if you want them to be extra yummy, resist the urge to pull them when they are just bright green and tender and not yet browned. Leave them in the oven for an extra few minutes till the tips start to crisp up. You won’t regret it.

Oven Roasted Asparagus Overhead Shot

 

Oven Roasted Asparagus
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 
Servings: 4
Author: Erica Julson
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Snap or cut off the tough bottom ends of the asparagus spears. You can snap them off by bending the spear near the end of the stalk, and the tough end will naturally snap off. This method works best for thinner spears. If you have very thick spears (like I did this time), just use a knife to cut off the bottom inch or so of the spears. That will help get rid of the stringy/woody pieces that can sometimes be at the bottom of the asparagus spears as they dry out.
  3. Spread the spears on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil, then sprinkle with a large pinch of kosher salt and sprinkle all over with ground black pepper (don’t be shy with the seasoning!). Use your hands to toss to coat and spread the spears out evenly.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes (if you have thick spears). Less time will be needed for thin spears. You’ll know the asparagus is done when a fork easily pierces the thick part of the stalk and the tips are starting to get browned and crispy.
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Vegan Mexican Spinach Salad

Vegan Mexican Spinach Salad

What do you get when you cross Mexican & vegan food?

Mexi-Vegan? Veg-exican?

Whatever you want to call it, it’s freaking delicious!

Introducing, my vegan Mexican spinach salad.

Paprika & cumin seasoned roasted carrots, lime seasoned black beans, crispy pan fried tofu, salty savory olives, spicy jalapeño, and creamy cilantro lime VEGAN dressing. YUM!

I was so tempted to make a greek yogurt dressing for this salad, but I really wanted to experiment and push myself to make a delicious creamy dressing WITHOUT using any dairy.

Creamy avocado and rich olive oil makes the dressing smooth and luscious, while nutritional yeast gives it a cheesy flavor.

I didn’t miss the dairy at ALL.

Mexican Vegan Spinach Salad

Also, have you seen the newest line of olives from Lindsay Olives??

They’re called “Lindsay Naturals“- no preservatives or dyes added, just olives, water, and sea salt.

AKA everything an olive should be.

I’ve really been digging the buttery green variety. They taste like black olives, but they’re a lovely green color. I know it’s weird, because they LOOK like the tart green olives you get in a jar, but they TASTE like the black olives you stuck on all your fingers as a kid (anyone??).

I didn’t even realize that most “regular” black olives are treated with a corn derived ingredient called ferrous gluconate to fix their black color. Without this treatment, black olives are naturally closer to dark brown. (Check out the Lindsay Naturals California Black Olives if you want to see the color of untreated black olives!).

I’m a huge fan of cutting out food additives and unnatural ingredients, so I highly suggest trying natural olives.

This is NOT a sponsored post, I just genuinely love these olives!

Vegan Mexican Spinach Salad

Vegan Mexican Spinach Salad
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
55 mins
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
 
Servings: 4
Author: Erica Julson
Ingredients
  • 3 cups sliced carrot (from about 4 to 6 large carrots), sliced on the bias, 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons melted refined coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime, divided
  • ~1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 oz firm sprouted tofu, sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices, then cut into 1/2 inch matchsticks
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 red jalapeño, deseeded and thinly sliced cross wise
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 large leaves of fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons shelled hemp hearts
  • 2 avocados
  • 10 oz fresh baby spinach
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the sliced carrots out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the melted coconut oil, and sprinkle with the paprika, cumin, cayenne, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper. Toss with your hands to coat evenly, then re-spread the carrots out evenly on the baking sheet. Pop in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until tender and slightly browned.
  2. Put the rinsed black beans in a bowl. Toss with the garlic powder, red wine vinegar, zest of 1 lime, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set aside for now.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large nonstick skillet. Warm over medium-high heat, add the tofu, and cook for a few minutes per side until golden and crisp. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate & season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the cilantro, 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, mint, juice of 1 lime, nutritional yeast, hemp hearts, and 1/2 avocado in a mini food processor. Pulse until well blended and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Divide the spinach into 4 serving bowls. Top with roasted carrots, black beans, crispy tofu, avocado slices, sliced olives, a sprinkle of jalapeño, and a liberal drizzle of dressing. Sprinkle with extra hemp hearts, if desired. Enjoy!
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Avocado Hemp Seed Pesto

Avocado Hemp Seed Pesto

Current obsession: avocado.

Avocado season (in California) runs from spring to fall, which means avocados are super delicious and readily available, starting NOW!

Fun Fact: California grows 90% of the Haas avocados in America, and San Diego County grows 40% of that 90%! (source).

My main goal in life is to own an avocado tree.

One tree can grow HUNDREDS of avocados each season. Yaaaas. That’s what I’m talking about.

For reals, I will never get bored of avocado!

My latest experiments in the kitchen have been using creamy luscious avocado as a fat source in recipes.

For example, traditional pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, and high quality olive oil. But you can totally replace that olive oil with avocado!

The results are creamy pillowy clouds of deliciousness. Almost alfredo-esque. It’s a clear win in my book!

I almost never make pesto with pine nuts anymore. They’re so freaking expensive!

Pretty much any nut works in their place. I happened to have a bag of hemp hearts in my fridge (love adding them to smoothies, smoothie bowls, and oatmeal). Their clean grassy flavor goes so well with creamy avocado.

Avocado pesto is great for a busy weeknight.

Toss all the ingredients into a mini food processor and press the button. Ready in like 1 minute! Simply boil some pasta and you’re good to go.

My favorite part is that you can easily make this recipe vegan.

Simply omit the parmesan cheese or replace it with nutritional yeast. Both add a savory tone, which I enjoy, but the pesto is still delicious without any cheese or nutritional yeast at all!

The secret to elevating this dish from good to GREAT is the finishing touches.

After plating each serving, drizzle with high quality extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with flaky Maldon sea salt, cracked black pepper, and extra cheese (if desired). The flaky sea salt & olive oil make each bite POP with flavor. So yum.

Avocado Hemp Seed Pesto

Avocado Hemp Seed Pesto
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 
Servings: 4
Author: Erica Julson
Ingredients
  • 3/4 lb dried fettuccine pasta
  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup lightly packed basil
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts (raw shelled hemp seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional), plus extra for serving (optional) (or replace with nutritional yeast, if desired)
  • Maldon sea salt, for serving
  • High quality extra virgin olive oil, for serving
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the fettuccine and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside, drizzling and tossing with a little olive oil to prevent sticking while it sits.

  2. Add the avocado, garlic cloves, basil, hemp seeds, salt, lemon zest and juice, ground black pepper, and parmesan cheese (if desired) to a food processor or blender. Pulse to combine, then blend steadily until smooth.

  3. Portion the pasta into bowls, top with avocado pesto sauce and stir to combine. Drizzle with high quality extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with flaky Maldon sea salt and ground black pepper, and top with extra Parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy right away!

  4. If you have leftovers, drizzle the top of the pesto with extra lemon juice and olive oil to create a protective coating to slow browning/oxidation of the avocado.

Recipe Notes

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the fettuccine and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside, drizzling and tossing with a little olive oil to prevent sticking while it sits. Add the avocado, garlic cloves, basil, hemp seeds, salt, lemon zest and juice, ground black pepper, and parmesan cheese (if desired) to a food processor or blender. Pulse to combine, then blend steadily until smooth. Portion the pasta into bowl, top with avocado pesto sauce and stir to combine. Drizzle with high quality extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with flaky maldon sea salt and ground black pepper, and top with extra parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy right away! If you have leftovers, drizzle the top of the pesto with extra lemon juice and olive oil to create a protective coating to slow browning/oxidation of the avocado.

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