Ever since reading Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I have greatly anticipated the first crop, ahem, second crop (because we all know maple syrup is the first crop!) of the spring season, asparagus! The season started later than expected, making me pretty antsy to get my hands on some asparagus. As soon as I heard there was local asparagus available I was at every farmers market buying as much as I could carry.
A year ago I would have never purchased this amount of asparagus, mostly because my food creativity had not peeked yet. But this year, I have a long list of asparagus recipes, so go grab a couple pounds of asparagus because we are going to create delicious meals centering around asparagus, starting with asparagus pesto. The word pesto literally means paste - which means no more waiting until fresh basil is available. Using asparagus instead of basil adds an extra dimension to idea of pesto, the flavour is different but delicious. When serving this to friends and families they will be pleasantly surprised with the taste and texture of asparagus pesto.
1lb of fresh asparagus
1/2 - 3/4 cup of organic extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of freshly grated hard cheese (romano, pecarino, or parmesan)
handful of walnuts
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Rinse asparagus. Take a stalk of asparagus and hold it lengthwise from end to end. Take it and gently bend it in half until it snaps. Toss the end of the asparagus into the compost, this is the woody end and does not taste that great.
Steam asparagus stalks for about 6-10 minutes or until the asparagus is bright green and fork tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Add the asparagus, cheese, walnuts, salt and pepper in a high speed blender. Add 1/2 cup of olive oil and puree. If extra olive oil is needed slowly add more until desired consistency is reached.
Use as you would any pesto, use it on chicken, pasta, mashed potatoes, fish, in a risotto, or on it's own (yes, I did eat a couple spoonfuls full).
Get creative, swap the walnuts for almonds or pecans, change the variety of cheese, throw in a little red pepper flakes, this recipe can be created many ways and still retain it's delectable flavour.