Everyone thinks of basil first when they hear the word “pesto,” but it can be made with a variety of ingredients, like fresh asparagus. This asparagus pesto is amazingly flavorful when tossed with pasta, or as a sauce for salmon or chicken, or a sandwich spread.
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 to 3 handfuls baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. kosher salt, more to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 oz.)
12 oz. pasta, such as angle hair or thin spaghetti
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
Add the asparagus and cook until tender but not mushy, about 7 minutes. Scoop out the asparagus using a large slotted spoon or perforated ladle, transfer to a colander and rinse under cold running water. Pat the asparagus dry and reserve a few tips for garnish. Return the water in the pot to a boil.
In a food processor, combine the asparagus, pine nuts, garlic, spinach, olive oil, and salt and process until very finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Set aside.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta.
If necessary, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water to the pesto, stirring to combine for desired consistency. Add the pasta to the bowl with the pesto and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, garish with the reserved asparagus tips.
This pesto can also be made with broccoli following the same instructions.
Keywords: asparagus pesto