I’ve been meaning to make something from Anya Kassoff’s cookbook, Simply Vibrant for too long now. This book has been by my side since it arrived… at my desk, in my kitchen, but if you follow along here, you know that I was in a bit of a creative cooking rut in 2018. But things have changed quite a bit! I’m back to my old self and excited to create it all now.
Simply Vibrant has one of the prettiest covers I’ve ever seen—I mean, chioggia beets are such stunners—and it’s filled with creative, tempting recipes and gorgeous photos.
I knew from the first time I cracked it open that I wanted to make the asparagus fries. In my book Pantry to Plate I have an entire recipe template for fries of all kinds. I love love love me some veggie fries and these looked crunchy, cheesy, savory—like a meal in itself because I’d likely eat all in one sitting.
I’ve made a step-by-step video for this recipe—hope it inspires you to cook along with me.
– – – – –
A NOTE FROM ANYA:
This is a well-loved recipe in my kitchen, to which I return frequently in the spring, when asparagus is at its most vibrant. A crispy coating of nuts, seeds, spices, and nutritional yeast—the vegan answer to cheese—coats the tender asparagus spears. It’s an excellent (and addictive) side when freshly roasted, sort of like nutritious green fries, and the leftovers are delicious on a salad or inside a sandwich.
Choose asparagus spears of medium thickness—if they’re too thin, the fries won’t hold their shape.
Serves 4 | Season: SPRING
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons purified water
2 tablespoons chia or flax meal
1/2 cup ground raw pumpkin seeds, pistachios, or other nuts of choice*
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
11/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch asparagus, about 25 to 30 spears, tough ends removed (and saved for Veggie Stock) or discarded
*Note from Heather: instead of breaking out the food processor, I just used blanched almond flour (which is basically almonds ground up with the skins removed) and it worked perfectly.
1. In a shallow dish, whisk together the lemon juice, water, and chia or flax meal. Set the mixture aside for 10 minutes to allow the chia or flax to gel.
2. In a large bowl or zip-top bag, combine the ground nuts or seeds, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast…
… garlic powder, salt, coconut sugar, ground cumin, and red pepper flakes…
… mix well or seal the bag and shake to combine thoroughly. Pour about 1/3 cup of this mixture onto a large plate.
3. Preheat the oven to 395°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Dip the asparagus, one spear at a time, into the lemon-chia mixture, then transfer it to the plate with the dry coating.
Using a fork, generously cover each spear with the mixture to coat. Avoid touching the asparagus and the coating with your hands as much as possible, in order to keep the coating as dry as possible and on the asparagus.
5. Carefully transfer the coated asparagus spears to the prepared baking sheet. Continue adding more of the coating mixture to the plate as it gets used up. Transfer the coated asparagus spears to the oven and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, until the coating is dry and golden.
6. Remove the asparagus fries from the oven and serve immediately. The leftovers will get soggy when refrigerated, but the flavor will stay delicious for 2 to 3 days.
Notes from Heather: I had leftover coating and it’s delicious so I’m saving it in the fridge to use for other recipes. Sprinkle it on cooked grains or rice, roasted veggies, popcorn, or cooked noodles.
I also didn’t have flax or chia meal, so I made some chia meal by grinding whole chia seeds in a coffee/spice grinder for about 10 pulses. Easy. Store any extra in an airtight container in the fridge until you make this recipe again. Fridge storage will be better than the pantry since the seeds have been broken—makes them more vulnerable to rancidity.
Recipe from Simply Vibrant by Anya Kassoff ©2018 by Anya Kassoff. Simply Vibrant Photographs ©2018 by Masha Davydova. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Want more inspiration? Check out my books.
Get one new video recipe sent to your inbox every month: join our Good Food Cooking Club, it’s free.