Recipe from The Kitchen Ecosystem by Eugenia Bone (Clarkson Potter, 2014).
If you have asparagus pesto on hand you always have a quick dinner. This pasta dish is elegant, beautiful as a first course or a light dinner. For an extra savory dish, cook the pasta in chicken broth (see side bar). You can also jazz up the garnishes: try sautéed shrimp, a dollop of homemade ricotta, or chopped fresh chives, or a combination.
¾ lb spaghettini
1 heaping cup asparagus pesto (recipe below), warmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese for garnish
4 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over a high heat. Add the spaghettini and cook until al dente. Drain. In a large serving bowl toss the pasta with the asparagus pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with the grated cheese and breadcrumbs.
This puree is great to have on hand. It makes an excellent sauce for broiled fish or for pasta or ravioli, or a poached egg on an English muffin. With added cream and seasoning, it’s also perfect as a warm soup. It is not thick, but loose and light. To make this pesto more robust, add 1/3 cup pineaaaa nuts to the food processor. Save the asparagus cooking water and ends or peels for Asparagus Stock (recipe below).
MAKES 1 PINT
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1/3 cup pine nuts (optional)
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Cut the asparagus in large pieces and place them in a large pot. Add just enough water to barely cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and boil the asparagus gently until they are fork-tender, about 10 minutes for slender asparagus, longer for thick ones. Reserving the cooking water, drain the asparagus.
Place the asparagus in a food processor along with 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water and the garlic. Add the pine nuts, if using, the oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste and pulse to combine. If necessary, add a bit more cooking water to get a smooth pesto.
The asparagus pesto holds in the freezer for 8 to 12 months. Add salt and pepper as you use the pesto (seasoning loses its oomph when frozen).