Tabasco & Asparagus Quinoa Recipe

Some San Francisco photos along with a recipe for asparagus & quinoa, tossed in a bit of Tabasco butter, with toasted pine nuts and a touch of crème fraîche.

Tabasco & Asparagus Quinoa

I like the idea that I can walk out my front door, put one foot in front of the other, and find myself at the beach. The Pacific Ocean meets Ocean Beach roughly five miles from where I'm sitting, and I often switch up my jogging routine to make my way west through Golden Gate Park, past the man-made waterfall, along the buffalo paddock, and out onto the Great Highway. From there you can see and hear the waves, and it is only a few steps to the sand. The quirky sights are rewarding, and they help inspire me to pull on my shoes on days when I might not feel like it. I thought I'd share a few snapshots I've taken along this route, as well as a quinoa recipe that made for a good post-jog lunch last week.

Tabasco & Asparagus Quinoa

This time of year you start to see all sorts of plants and trees blooming: poppies, cherry and plum blossoms, magnolias, camelias. There are still plenty of slumbering trees, but wait a few days. In a matter of hours a tree can explode into color from seemingly lifeless, twiggy branches. That being said, the spring rain and wind can take its toll on the flowers and some days the park looks like a giant took a bat to a flower petal-filled piñata.

Tabasco & Asparagus Quinoa

Recently restored, this is a Dutch windmill, bravely facing the ocean winds flat on. There is a tulip garden at its feet certain times of year, and I've read, at the time it was built it was the largest windmill of its type in the world. It's huge and impressive and I like to look back at it from the beach.

Tabasco & Asparagus Quinoa

I took the shot of the windmill standing near here, but facing east. When facing west, like this, I see one of my favorite views, straight ahead. On clear days I always try to spot the Farallon Islands. Then, if you look right, you'll see the coast where it is starting to meet the San Francisco Bay - the mouth of the Golden Gate.

Tabasco & Asparagus Quinoa

So yeah, this is just the sort of lunch I like to throw together after a jog or long walk. The inspiration came from an idea in Skye Gyngell's My Favorite Ingredients cookbook. I was flipping through the new U.S. edition, and came across her Asparagus with Tabasco Butter recipe. I've been meaning to give this a go ever since I came across it in the original UK edition. Her recipe is written as a side dish, I was after a one-dish lunch and had some leftover quinoa on hand, so I built on her idea, and went from there. The leftovers are good the day (or two) after as well!

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Tabasco & Asparagus Quinoa

The Tabasco taste here is actually quite subtle once the butter is incorporated into the quinoa - a bit spicy, a bit tangy. You can make your butter stronger if you like, or serve the quinoa with more Tabasco sauce on the side. The next day I did a "fried rice" style version of this by making a thin omelette, slicing it up and stirring it back into a heated skillet of the asparagus/quinoa. If you don't have pine nuts, sliced almonds might make a nice alternative.

1/2 cup / 4 oz / 113g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
25 drops Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 pound / 16 oz / 453 g asparagus, cut into 1-inch segments

4 cups cooked quinoa*
1/3 cup / 2 oz / 60 g pine nuts, toasted
scant 1/4 cup creme fraiche - optional
more Tabasco sauce to taste

Start by making the Tabasco butter. In a food processor, or with a hand blender, whip the butter until it is light and airy. Add the mustard, Tabasco sauce, lemon juice and salt. As I mention above, you can make it stronger if you like, adding more hot sauce to taste.

Boil the asparagus in a large pot of well salted water, for just for a minute or so - depending on the thickness of your asparagus. Drain. If you are serving this immediately you can leave the asparagus hot, but if you are going to wait to serve this, or think you'll have leftovers I recommend you stop the cooking with cold water or a dunk in an ice bath, then drain well before using.

Take the 4 cups / 20 oz / 565 g of hot cooked quinoa and toss with 3 tablespoons of the tabasco butter. You'll have leftover butter - you can serve that on the side or use it for other purposes. Stir in the asparagus, pine nuts, and dollop with creme fraiche. Serve with more Tabasco sauce on the side.

Serves 4 - 6.

*To cook quinoa: Combine 2 cups of well-rinsed dried quinoa with 3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25 - 30 minutes or until quinoa is tender and you can see the little quinoa curliques.

Inspired by Skye Gyngell's Asparagus with Tabasco Butter recipe in My Favorite Ingredients (Ten Speed Press, 2010).

Prep time: 30 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Could couscous be used in place of quinoa?

Barbara Blandford Helm

Could couscous be used in place of quinoa?

Barbara Blandford Helm

Our two favorite ways to have quinoa is in soups and in cold salads. This looks like a perfect salad for this time of year!

Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet

Great...had some asparagus that I did not use for Easter....first gorgeous day in northern NM, after weeks of snow...sitting out on the porch looking at mtns (instead of sea - anyone want switch for a week?) enjoying this recipe for lunch.


One thing that I have discovered lately is that cooked white wheat berries sauteed in just a touch of butter can simulate pine nuts in recipes where they are kept whole. With how expensive pine nuts are, I like to know that I have an inexpensive substitute.


So I'm imagining you trying to jog while carrying your does this work? Or was the picture-taking day a non-jogging day? :) It looks like a breathtaking view, I'm jealous! And this dish sounds simple and delicious - I wonder if the Tabasco butter could convince my husband to eat asparagus...hmm....


Lovely idea of combining the tabasco with the butter. thanks for the recipe and the photos are always fabulous!

The Mistress of Spice

Thank you Heidi! Now I'm wondering if I have enough quinoa to make this, and asparagus is now on my list. Someone mentioned garlic, and suddenly I can see cloves of it in the butter, and am wondering what flavors would pop if I threw a few cloves in the quinoa while cooking it? Hmm.


Today I ate amaranth for lunch, but I have never tried quinoa yet. I would like, though, because I know is packed with lots of nutrients too...and it looks delicious! A great way to eat aspargut, too :)


It isn't mentioned in the recipe, but I assume that once you cook the asparagus and have mixed the butter into the quinoa, that you simply add the boiled asparagus to this mixture and nothing more. Correct? HS: Yes, exactly - will make that more clear.


Thanks for the inspirational photos and foods. --Also to The Healthy Apple,: Quinoa is an ancient grain that is gluten free and still full of protein...go for the recipe as it is written. Enjoy!

no Wheat -Penny

Where can I get quinoa? Is there a substitute? I am not a great cook. But I am a good eater. I would like to do both on this recipe. Tks K


can't wait to try it.


Amazing, Heidi...I love Tabasco...nice n' spicy...even though I'm gluten-intolerant, I'm surely going to create this dish with buckwheat as I'm sure it will still be delish...Thanks Heidi! HS: I think this recipe is GF as written, no? Let me know if I'm off-base GFers, and I'll pull the tag off.

The Healthy Apple

Very imaginative, and I love the simplicity. Somehow making a spiced up quinoa has escaped me, love this idea. The fried rice leftover version sounds great as well.

The Ordinary Vegetarian

How creative and clever! I love the flavor of Tabasco, and basically dump it on top of anything and everything as it is. I've been playing around with this Quinoa Tabouli, and have been thinking about ways to give it a little non-traditional kick. I'll have to try adding a little tabasco next time. Ah spring, ah quinoa. Love this season. Thanks!


This dish sounds delicious! I am trying to incorporate more grains in my diet, so am happy to have new ideas. I keep Cholula sauce on hand as well as Tabasco. I might like to give the Cholula sauce a try in this instead.


I've got to say thank you! I consistently use your recipes, and I never tire of 'veggin' for a while and roaming through your website and planning out my meals for the family. Thanks to you, my family eats many healthy and delicious meals!!!! Kudos to you sista, go on with yo bad self! :)


Your pics of SF as of late have been a welcome comfort. Having been "transplanted" to New Jersey 7 years ago I miss the Bay Area everyday. No offense to any NJ lovers out there, but there just isn't any place quite like the SF Bay Area. Thanks for taking me home again Heidi!


Are you kidding me? You are just too much! Bella bella! Definitely making this.

Leah @

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