Since it’s full-on asparagus season here, I thought I’d give you a different way to eat it than roasted or steamed or grilled. How about as a dip/spread? This Asparagus Pesto recipe has all of the elements of a traditional pesto except it substitutes fresh blanched asparagus for the basil. And there is an added ingredient that really makes that asparagus pop!
In the early Spring when the asparagus is poking up from the ground in teeny, tiny, tender shoots I just can’t get enough of it! It is one of the signs of the change of season I most look forward to seeing.
Since we eat so much of it at this time of year, I thought it would be good to experiment with different ways to use it. This asparagus pesto seemed a really great way to get even more of this incredible vegetable into our food.
Traditional pesto contains basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. I’ve added one thing to this list, after I substituted the basil for asparagus. Well, actually, two ingredients. I added lemon zest and some fresh lemon juice. The inclusion of the lemon and lemon zest really brightens the fresh green flavor of the asparagus; one reason you see so many recipes with the two paired.
For the recipe, you blanch the asparagus in boiling water for just a couple of minutes before plunging it into an ice water bath to halt the cooking. Then, all of the ingredients are combined in a food processor to make it smooth. It could not be easier.
And this Asparagus Pesto is just delicious! You could add it to pasta or risotto, or serve it as I have, with crusty bread and vegetables for dipping.
I hope you’ll try it!
p.s.: Have a hard time getting kids to eat asparagus? What kid can resist a dip?
- 8 ounces fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1½ teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 small clove garlic
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- In a small pan with boiling water, blanch the asparagus for 3 minutes.
- Immediately remove the asparagus from the boiling water and plunge into a bowl of iced water.
- As soon as the asparagus is completely cooled, remove from the iced water and dry.
- Cut the asparagus into about 1 inch pieces.
- Place the asparagus pieces and all the other ingredients into a food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds to smooth.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse a couple more times.
- Remove the pesto to a bowl to serve with crusty bread and vegetables, or add to your favorite pasta or risotto.