Place water in a medium saucepan; bring water to a boil. Add asparagus, and cook 2 minutes or just until crisp-tender; drain. Place asparagus in ice water 1 minute; drain. Set aside.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken broth and salt; bring to a boil. Add couscous; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in asparagus, black pepper, red bell pepper, and cashews. Cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Note: To substitute quick-cooking barley for Israeli couscous, use 1 cup barley and 2 cups broth. Cover and cook 10 to 12 minutes before adding remaining ingredients.