nce upon a time, there was a lemon asparagus pasta recipe, and I'm pretty sure it came from epicurious. But try as I might, it would not show itself--not under "asparagus," asparagus pasta" or even "lemon asparagus pasta." Nothing. After a couple of really decent attempts to find it, I gave up and decided I could wing it on feel and taste and memory alone. And sure enough, that worked. This version is slightly different than I remember, but with asparagus, parmesan and lemon in the pot, it is pretty hard to go wrong.
Asparagus lemon pesto
1 dozen asparagus spears, steamed, tips cut off
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. grated fresh lemon peel
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan
2 Tbsp. pine nuts
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parmesan to taste
Put a large pot of boiling water on for your pasta. Whatever shape you like--I generally like a long strand like linguine or spaghettini for this dish.
While your pasta is cooking, steam the asparagus in a separate pot (or in the microwave, if you like shortcuts like me!) and cut off the tips, saving them for later. Chop the spears and put the them into your food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse for about 20-30 seconds, until the mixture is coarse but consistently so. You may need to stir down the sides of your food processor bowl in the middle of pulsing to achieve that.
The asparagus mixture on it's own is quite lovely. It would make a great bruschetta, or even a pizza topping (with extra cheese, of course!)... really a delectable mixture.
Once your pasta is cooked, drain it but keep some of the cooking water (a cup should do). Toss the pasta with your asparagus mixture and add in some of the pasta cooking water to wet the mixture and melt the cheese into the pasta. Add in the asparagus tips and basil, and season with salt and pepper as well as extra parmesan to taste, and serve.
I love the fresh flavor of the asparagus; it simply screams "Spring!" to me, and I welcome it gladly into the supermarket (especially when it's local and not being flown in from Chile or some such exotic locale)! Thus begins many days of cooking with asparagus, happily.