Sunday, May 09, 2010

signs of spring: asparagus pesto

After a long couple of weeks of nonstop work, I was WIPED OUT by Sunday evening, and my plans of ice cream experimenting and pie making and who knows what else was slowly slipping away. I needed a simple easy dinner that left very little clean-up, but I still wanted SPRING. So, the logical decision, take a cue from Mark Bittman in this week's NY Times, and turn that lovely asparagus into a pesto.

It doesn't get much easier than breaking out the food processor and blending a bunch of stuff up and tossing it with pasta. All it takes is about 8 minutes of blanching (in the same water I ended up boiling the pasta in), and the asparagus was ready to toss in the processor with the classic pine nuts, cheese, and olive oil. I tweaked his recipe a bit, adding in a bit of basil and more lemon juice. I also iced the asparagus after blanching thinking it might help preserve the vibrant green. I'm not sure that it was really necessary. Tossed with some fresh fettuccine, this dinner was wolfed down enthusiastically. Recipe after the jump:

Adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman, New York Times

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments
1 clove garlic, or more to taste
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil, or more as desired
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the asparagus and cook until fully tender but not mushy, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well, reserving some of the cooking liquid, and let the asparagus cool slightly.

2. Transfer the asparagus to a food processor and add the garlic, pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of the oil, Parmesan, a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and gradually add the remaining oil and a bit more of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten if necessary. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste, pulse one last time, and serve over pasta, fish or chicken (or cover and refrigerate for up to a day).

Yield: 4 to 6 servings (about 1 1/2 cups).


Anonymous said...

Wait a minute! Amanda Hesser just told me (and 8 million other NYTimes readers that I never need to blanch asparagus again. Do Mark and Amanda ever talk to each other? But really, could you saute it? roast it? Or what if it was RAW?

faycat said...

You don't need to blanch it if you're cooking it some other way afterwards, like if you're sauteeing it people used to say blanch first, but I never bothered. But for this recipe, the pesto is never cooked, so I would cook the asparagus at least some way. A completely raw asparagus pesto might be a little rough. That's a whole lot of undigestible fiber for your tummy. It might cause some discomfort for either you or the people who have to live with you.

The Daily Eater said...

This looks great. Going to try it.

Lila said...

A food processor, yes I can do that. Blanching, yep, pasta...YES!!! Success!
Lila Ferraro
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