With asparagus season right around the corner it’s time to take out some of my favorite recipes using my favorite vegetable. The following twist on classic Italian pesto is one of my favorite asparagus recipes. It can be used in any way traditional basil pesto can be used. I love this tossed with hot pasta or as a topping for bruschetta and grilled chicken or salmon. I also like to serve this as a dip with toasted pita triangles. This is quick, easy and can be made a day ahead.
1 lb fresh asparagus
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 bunch (about 2 cups) fresh Italian parsley leaves
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, mashed
½ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Wash and peel bottoms of the asparagus. Cut each spear into 4 pieces. Bring a pan of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon. Blanch the asparagus for one minute in the boiling water and drain. Drop the asparagus into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and keep the asparagus bright green. Remove from the ice water and drain well on paper towels.
When the asparagus is dry place into a bowl of a food processor along with the cheese, walnuts, parsley, lemon zest and garlic. Pulse until a rough paste has formed. Continue to process adding the olive oil slowly until the pesto is the desired consistency. A few drops of water can be added if too thick. Do not use an acid based liquid like lemon juice or wine vinegar or the green color of the pesto may darken unless added right before serving.
Remove from the food processor and place in a small bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate till serving time. Makes about 2 ½ cups of pesto.