i know we’ve been on a bit of an asparagus bender recently (here, here, and here) but i can’t help it! i love asparagus and i think it’s one of the vegetables that suffers most out of season (well, along with tomatoes, corn, berries… ok, maybe several of my favorites are at the more seasonally dependent end of the spectrum).
because asparagus season is so fleeting, every spring i go on an asparagus spree, determined to enjoy as many meals as possible with asparagus. while i don’t get sick of asparagus during its short season, i do enjoy trying out new flavor combinations and types of dishes.
this particular combination of asparagus, quinoa, feta, pistachios, mint, citrus, etc. includes a new ingredient for me: pistachios. as incredible as it sounds, i’ve never really had pistachios before. i’m sure i’ve eaten things ever in my life that had pistachio flavor but if you had asked me to describe the taste of a pistachio, i would be at a complete loss. even now, i’ve eaten so few of them, relative to other foods over 30+ years, that i still can’t describe their taste without going to the kitchen to eat one.
for this asparagus quinoa, though, i knew from the beginning i wanted to have some sort of crunch, likely from a nut. to figure out what nut might pair well with the combination i had dreamed up so far, i turned to the vegetarian flavor bible. as i was looking up the ingredients i knew i wanted to include (asparagus, feta, orange, mint, and lemon), i noticed that pistachios kept coming up on the list of flavors that paired well, which made it pretty easy to decide on which nut to try adding.
as a pistachio newbie, i didn’t realize that “dry roasted” didn’t necessarily mean unsalted so the salty nuts combined with some unpredictably very salty feta from the farmers’ market made the overall dish pretty salty. i know i’m way over on the far end of the loves salt/hates salt end of the spectrum but, still, taste your ingredients before dumping them all in and adjust quantities accordingly if both the cheese and nuts are heavy on salt. i’d hate for even a single stalk of precious spring asparagus to be lost to an overly salty batch of asparagus quinoa with feta and pistachios!
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