It has enough cheese to satisfy my craving, but the cheese is merely a background player to the savory pine nuts and the bright asparagus and lemon. Plus, the dish works cold for leftovers.
Pasta with Asparagus Pesto
(Original recipe from Gourmet)
- 1 pound pasta (I used rotoni)
- 1 pound asparagus
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- garlic cloves (Gourmet said 2-3 medium, I used between 4-5)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2/3 cup)
- peel of 1 lemon (my addition)
I rarely prep my ingredients first, but wanting make sure I got the asparagus right I did prep ahead of boiling the water this time, with the exception of grating the lemon.
In a 6- to 7-quart kettle bring about 5 quarts salted water to a boil. Saute the pine nuts and garlic in a small amount of olive oil.
Have ready a bowl of ice water. Trim woody ends from asparagus. Cut asparagus stalks crosswise into 2-inch pieces, reserving tips. In a steamer set over boiling water steam stalks, covered, 4 minutes. Add half reserved asparagus tips and steam, covered, until just tender, about 1 minute. Immediately transfer asparagus to ice water to stop cooking. Drain asparagus well in a colander and pat dry. Add pasta to boiling water.
In a food processor pulse pine nuts and garlic with salt until finely chopped. Add asparagus and oil and pulse until asparagus is coarsely chopped. Stir in lemon peel.
Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. When almost ready, add remaining asparagus tips and cook 1 more minute.
Reserve 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta in a colander. Transfer pesto to the now empty pot, add pasta* and stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano and lemon peel. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. I found it was unnecessary.