Sunny Asparagus Tapenade


* 3/4 pound fresh asparagus, chopped

* 3/4 cup packed fresh parsley sprigs

* 1/3 cup unsalted sunflower kernels

* 1/4 cup lemon juice

* 1/4 cup orange juice

* 1 tablespoon olive oil

* 2 teaspoons maple syrup

* 1 small garlic clove, chopped

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

* 1 teaspoon pepper

* Additional sunflower kernels, optional

* Assorted fresh vegetables, crackers and/or toasted French bread baguette


* In a large saucepan, bring 1/2 in. of water to a boil. Add asparagus; cover and cook for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Drain and immediately place asparagus in ice water. Drain and pat dry.

* Place in a food processor; add the parsley, sunflower kernels, lemon juice, orange juice, oil, syrup, garlic, salt, pepper flakes and pepper. Cover and process until desired consistency.

* Transfer to a small bowl; sprinkle with additional sunflower kernels if desired. Serve at room temperature or chilled with the dippers of your choice. Yield: 2 cups.