Grilled Asparagus Plate & Cilantro Pepita Pesto

grilled asparagus plate-large

This beautiful recipe from Sara Forte‘s blog Sprouted Kitchen  is a perfect example of the food I’ve been drawn to lately. It features seasonal produce, cooked simply, with bold and contrasting flavors.  When it’s East Coast humid and the temps are in the 80s, I don’t want too much fuss in the kitchen.  I also shy away from food that’s heavy. Starting out the day by  hitting our building’s stairs, and then running in aforementioned heat, gets my mind in health-mode (and vow to make up for those 3 glasses of sangria & fudge-drenched churros from Friday night :P).

The star of this dish is the Cilantro Pepita Pesto.

Garlic, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and salt

pepitas garlic salt

plus jalapeno (sans seeds b/c my mouth is a woos), lime juice, chipotle powder, and lots of cilantro.

limes cilantro jalapeno paprika

I think my food processor is my most-used piece of kitchen equipment.

pesto ingredients in processor


Grilled asparagus is really good as is.

grilled asparagus

But add that bright, kapow! pesto, smoky toasty pepitas, and crunchy red onion … crazy good!

grilled asparagus plate

This recipe is great, so I didn’t change a single thing (well, except for spooning the pesto on top of the asparagus, instead of asparagus on the pesto).

Grilled Asparagus Plate & Cilantro Pepita Pesto – Sprouted Kitchen

Cilantro Pepita Pesto

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup toasted pepitas
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 jalapeno (sort of seeded or totally seeded)
  • 1/4 tsp. chipotle powder, to taste
  • one large bunch (about 4 super packed cups) cilantro, ends cut, stem is fine
  • juice of two large limes
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • splash of water


  • 1 bunch asparagus, about 1 1/2 lbs. (medium thickness stalks)
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup toasted pepitas

For the Pesto

Pulse the garlic, toasted pepitas and sea salt in a food processor to chop. Add the jalapeno, chipotle, cilantro and lime juice and run the processor to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil and a splash of water. Taste and adjust as you wish. Add more chipotle for heat, citrus juice and/or salt to brighten it, water if you prefer it thinner.

For the Asparagus

Trim the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends. (You could also use a vegetable peeler to shave the ends if your asparagus is very thick). Toss the asparagus in the olive oil and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus, (covered if using a real grill), turning a few times, for about 7-9 minutes. Time will vary based on thickness of the stalks.

Spoon the pesto over the asparagus.  Garnish with the minced red onion and toasted pepitas. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield – 4 servings

pepita pesto-side

The recipe for the pepita pesto will give you about 12-16 oz. of pesto goodness.  I agree with Sara, who says she loves having extra on-hand.  This sauce was amazing on a variety of cold and roasted veggie wraps we made the following week.  And I used to not even like cilantro!


15 thoughts on “Grilled Asparagus Plate & Cilantro Pepita Pesto

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