Asparagus pesto

May 27, 2009

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Makes 3 cups

Charles Vollmar of Epicurean Exchange in the Bay Area keeps this pesto on the dry side to garnish a saute of spring vegetables. Or thin it with pasta cooking water and use it as a pasta sauce.

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup packed coarsely chopped basil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or asiago cheese
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes or until just cooked but still bright green. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain again and dry with paper towels.

2. Meanwhile, in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast the pine nuts, shaking the pan constantly, for 3 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

3. In a food processor, place the pine nuts, asparagus, and basil. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream until the mixture is smooth. Add the Parmesan or asiago, lemon rind and juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if you like. Adapted from Charles Vollmar