Pearled Couscous with Mayo-Roasted Asparagus, Lemon and Parmesan

Creamy, cheesy couscous pearls, tossed with roasted asparagus, charred lemon and fragrant herbs. And if you've never slathered your vegetables with mayo before roasting, you need to read this.

I know, mayonnaise on vegetables sounds weird, right? I didn't believe it either - so I had to try it. WOW. Knocked my socks off. The mayo seals in the moisture, and then slightly caramelizes the outside of the spears, creating a crispy exterior. It's such a simple step, but a massive game-changer.

In this dish, we also take advantage of double-duty roasting. As the asparagus roasts, so do the lemon wedges. That's another culinary hack you need in your life - roasting lemons. A quick visit to the oven and the lemons become equally tart and sweet. This roasting trick mellows the intense tartness of the lemon and creates the most wonderful flavor for this (and other) dishes.

I served this as a side dish, but it could have easily worked as a vegetarian main dish. For a vegan main or side, choose vegan mayo (often made with soy) and vegan parm (often made with nutritional yeast).

Pearled Couscous with Mayo-Roasted Asparagus, Lemon and Parmesan

1 bunch fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons mayonnaise, or vegan mayo for a vegan version
Salt and ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
10 ounces pearled couscous
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
Arrange the asparagus on the prepared pan, in a single layer, and brush the mayonnaise all over the spears. Season the asparagus with salt and pepper. Arrange the lemons alongside the asparagus.
Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until the asparagus spears and lemon wedges are golden brown and tender. Remove the pan from the oven and, when the asparagus is cool enough to handle, cut the spears into 2-inch pieces.
Meanwhile, cook the couscous according the package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese, the juice from 2 of the roasted lemon wedges, olive oil, oregano, and thyme. Toss to combine. Fold in the asparagus. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the couscous to a serving bowl and top with the remaining tablespoon of parmesan cheese. Garnish with the remaining lemon wedges and serve warm, room temperature or chilled.
Serves 4