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Asparagus with black rice, quinoa and pesto

Asparagus is lovely eaten on its own with a little butter but it is even better with a sauce. Pesto suits asparagus really well and makes a beautiful season starter. The asparagus season lasts between mid April and 21st June but it depends on the weather.

Serves 4


200 g black rice (you can use red rice or Basmati rice instead)

100 g quinoa

250 g asparagus

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp good quality olive oil

For the pesto

1 medium sized bunch of fresh basil

50 g Parmesan cheese, grated finely

50 g pine nuts

1 clove garlic

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

100 ml olive oil


Place the rice in a saucepan with 2 litres of water. Bring the water to the boil and simmer the rice for 25 minutes until tender. Take a little of the rice from the water with a fork and taste it. The rice grains should be chewy but not hard when cooked. Drain the rice and place it in a bowl.

Place the quinoa in a separate saucepan with 500 ml water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and cook for 10 minutes. The grains of quinoa will unfurl when the grain is cooked. Drain the quinoa and add it to the rice and mix the two grains together well with a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and steam it until tender which will take about 7 minutes but depends on the thickness of the stem. Lay the steamed asparagus across the black rice and quinoa.

For the pesto

Grind the pine nuts, garlic in a pestle and mortar (or food processor), add the Parmesan cheese and about half of the basil leaves. Pound these ingredients together and then add the remaining basil leaves. Continue to pound these ingredients until they have been broken down to a rough paste.

Gradually stir in the olive oil and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To serve: drizzle pesto over the asparagus and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve with some new potatoes or crusty bread if you hungry.