I love asparagus, but you can only make and eat asparagus spears every so often. I am always trying to come up with new and fun ways to incorporate asparagus into my recipes. A few nights ago I came up with a WINNER! Dinner consisted of a fabulous Pasta with Fresh Asparagus Pesto. I used a whole wheat angel hair pasta, but you could use any kind of pasta. I pureed some par-boiled asparagus spears with some fresh basil from my garden, olive oil, parmesan cheese, halved grape tomates and salt & pepper. It was the easiest thing to make and the taste was super fresh....great summer flavor. It was a light pasta dish that I served on the side of a lemon chicken. I tossed in a side salad of fresh greens, artichoke hearts and black olives and we had an awesome summer meal!
PASTA WITH FRESH ASPARAGUS PESTO
1 lb. asparagus spears - tough ends trimmed
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves - quartered
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
salt, fresh ground pepper & red pepper flakes to taste
1 lb. pasta
1/2 cup pasta water
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
In a large pot of boiling water place the asparagus spears. Cook in water for only 4-5 minutes. Immediately remove asparagus from boiling water and place in a large bowl filled with cold water and ice. This process will stop the cooking of the asparagus so it does not get too soft.
Place asparagus, basil, parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes in a food processor or blender. Pulse mixture until it forms a thick puree. Set aside.
In the meantime place your pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook pasta about 8 minutes, until cooked al'dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta.
Place pasta back in pot. Turn heat off. Add the 1/2 cup pasta water to the pasta along with the asparagus pesto. Toss to coat pasta. Add the halved grape tomatoes and toss again.
Serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper.