Tuesday, March 22, 2011

recipe: pasta with asparagus pesto

Sunday night at 8pm, having consumed only a bagel my roommate prepared me for the past 8 hours, I decided I wanted to use up the asparagus I had in the fridge. With dreams of creamy pasta in my head, I turned to the internets because I knew I had no cream in the house. I came up with an asparagus pesto, from Gourmet magazine, that I adapted thanks to some suggestions from comments others left.

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)

[mise en place]


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.

*The recipe has you add the reserved cooking water, I forgot to reserve any and it was fine without, but will probably try to remember next time. I don't think it's dry without out though.


1 comment:

Dan.Eliot said...

As an advocate for fitness I tend to hear many excuses from people on why they are not dieting. One of the lamest of these is the old “I just don’t have time to cook healthy food”. While lack of time is a very valid reason to not want to cook every day for dinner and lunch, this does not completely excuse the lack of trying. There are many ways to eat healthy without having to use more than a microwave. Learn more:

Healthy cooking tips