Everyone thinks of basil first when they hear the word “pesto.” But pesto can be made with a variety of ingredients, like asparagus. It makes a refreshing pasta topping, especially in the spring.
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and stalks cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces, tips reserved
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 oz.)
1 lb. angle hair pasta
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Add the asparagus stalks and steam, covered, for 4 minutes. Add the reserved tips, cover and steam until tender, about for 1 minute. Transfer the asparagus to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Drain the asparagus and pat dry.
In a food processor, combine the pine nuts, garlic, and basil and process until finely chopped. Add the asparagus, olive oil and salt and pulse until the asparagus is coarsely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Set aside.
Add the angel hair to the boiling water and cook until al dente according to package directions, 1 to 2 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Add the reserved pasta cooking water to the pesto, stirring to combine. Add the angel hair to the bowl with the pesto and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.