Asparagus Pesto

Asparagus Pesto (7 of 7)

It’s only the middle of April but we’re deep into asparagus season around here. For the past month, our weekly CSA box has included a bundle of the elusive green stalks. The first week, I roasted it with just oil and salt and the second week I did the same. But I don’t particularly enjoy repeat meals. Eating the same thing, even for two weeks, is boring to me. So it was time for a change. Last year when this “problem” came up, I pickled it (We can pickle that? Anyone? Just watch the video). This year I went looking for something different.

Asparagus Pesto (1 of 7)

Well, that’s not entirely true. Just when I started thinking that maybe I should consider doing something else with the weekly asparagus bunch, the New York Times posted a whole bunch of asparagus recipes. The picture of asparagus pesto caught my eye and that was that. It could be nothing else. And oh, it was a good choice.

Asparagus Pesto (2 of 7) Asparagus Pesto (4 of 7)

Before you ask, no I didn’t actually look any farther than the picture. This isn’t so much an adaptation of the NY Times recipe as much as a dish inspired by the article. Which is fine since when I went back to check the “recipe” is more of a method. Whatever, it’s still delicious.

Asparagus Pesto (6 of 7)

What is it about asparagus that is so lovely? Sometimes I wonder if it would be so popular if it were available year round. Asparagus tastes pretty grassy, very green, which normally means “healthy” and therefore unpopular. But the beginning of the season is always exciting. It becomes a topic of conversation, “Asparagus is back!” By the end of the I’m usually pretty sick of it and almost glad to see it go. Yes, I feel a little guilty about that, as if I’m supposed to appreciate it more. In a few weeks I’ll probably be pushing it on friends in an effort to get rid of it. But for now, a bowl of pasta with a vibrantly green asparagus sauce is just what I’m looking for. After all, it is the taste of spring.

Asparagus Pesto (5 of 7)

Asparagus Pesto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Inspired by Mark Bittman’s article in The New York Times
Serves: 1 cup
  • 1 lb asparagus, woody stems removed and spears cut into 3 inch lengths
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  1. Fill a pot large enough to fit a steamer basket or colander inside (whatever pot you use for steaming vegetables) with about two inches of water and bring it to a boil over medium high heat.
  2. Place the asparagus in a steamer or colander and put it over the boiling water so the water doesn’t touch the vegetables. Steam the asparagus for about 10 minutes or until it is dark green and tender. Covering it will speed up the steaming process.
  3. Add the steamed asparagus to a food processor or blender with the oil, cheese, nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend or process it until smooth. You may need to work in batches if, like me, you only have a mini appliance. When the sauce is as smooth as you want it, taste it and adjust any seasonings as needed (more salt? more lemon?).

    Serve this pesto warm over pasta, toast, or grilled meat. It will keep in the fridge for up to 10 days, and while you can eat it cold, I think the flavor is best warm or at room temperature.
Just like any pesto, this one is customizable to what you like. Less nuts, more cheese, no garlic, add some lemon. Taste it as you go so that you can make the pesto that you love best.

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