Sautéed asparagus marinated with sage, nettle and wild garlic pesto

April 5, 2015 (Last Updated: January 11, 2019)

Sautéed asparagus marinated with sage, nettle and wild garlic pesto

By Shaun Schoeman Serves: 4
Cooking Time: 50 minutes + 1 – 2 hours, to marinate (optional)


  • Pesto
  • 2 handfuls fresh nettles (spikes removed)/sweet basil leaves, rinsed
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) garlic, crushed
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) Parmesan, grated
  • 125ml (½ cup) olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
  • 60ml (¼ cup) pine nuts
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Asparagus
  • 3 bunches green/white asparagus, rinsed and peeled
  • 75ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 sprigs fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) garlic, crushed
  • handful wild/button/large black mushrooms, sliced
  • handful fresh peas
  • handful Rosa tomatoes, halved
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • To serve
  • roasted carrot (optional)
  • cream cheese
  • risotto (click here for the recipe)
  • goat’s cheese bruschetta (top a 2,5cm slice of toasted French bread with creamy goat’s cheese)
  • pelargonium/any edible flowers (optional)



For the pesto, place the nettles or basil in a food processor or large pestle and mortar together with the garlic, Parmesan, 125ml (½ cup) olive oil and lemon juice and blitz or grind to combine.


Heat the 15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil in a frying pan over low-medium heat and toast the pine nuts until golden brown. Add the toasted pine nuts to the pesto and blitz or grind until smooth. Season and place in a container covered with a lid or cling film until ready to use. This will keep for 4 – 5 days in the fridge.


For the asparagus, blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes, then refresh in ice water. Remove from the water, place in a bowl, sprinkle with most of the olive oil and add the sage and 5ml (1 tsp) of the crushed garlic. Toss to combine and coat. This can be done 1 – 2 hours in advance and left to marinate.


Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and gently sauté the marinated asparagus, 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and peas and cook until the mushrooms are soft. Add the tomatoes and remaining garlic and sauté, 30 seconds – 1 minute.


Toss the asparagus, mushrooms, peas and tomatoes in the pesto, about 10ml (2 tsp) per serving, to coat. Season to taste.


To assemble, plate the asparagus and vegetables and serve with a dollop of cream cheese, some risotto and a slice of goat’s cheese bruschetta. Garnish with edible flowers, if desired.

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