Do you like pesto? Good! I think I've got just the thing for you. This recipe came about through what can only be described as serendipity. I had forgotten that I had asparagus roasting in the oven and when I finally went to check on them they were as soft as the bananas my sons like to mash into our carpet. But I had my heart set on asparagus, and I was not going to be defeated.
Don't you just love a mistake gone right?
I've learned to appreciate asparagus over the years, so I love to have big chunks of it running through my pasta. But if it still makes you squeamish, just leave out the 10 extra stalks in this recipe and give the asparagus pesto a try. Your tastebuds won't even know what hit them, all they'll know is that they loved every bit of it.
Roasted Asparagus Pesto Pasta
1 lb pasta of your choice
1 bunch (about 30 stalks) regular asparagus
2 cups chopped basil
3/4 cup pine nuts
3 cloves of garlic (or 4 if you're a garlic lover like me)
2 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 cup grated fresh parmesan (don't use the cheap stuff, you'll notice it here)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp water
salt and pepper to taste (I usually use about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper)
Preheat oven to 400F and bring water to boil in large pot. Wash Asparagus and break off tough ends. Add just a touch of olive oil to them, enough to make them shine. Spread out in single layer on foil-lined baking sheet. Roast 10-12 min until fork-tender, then remove from pan to let cool. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to al dente instructions. Heat small pan to medium high heat and dry roast pine nuts (these burn easily- just cook them a few minutes until they're golden brown, shaking the pan once or twice to redistribute.) Set aside half of these, along with about 10 stalks of asparagus, cut to 1 inch pieces, to be added to the pasta later. If you have a good processor, now is the time that you can whizz away all of the non-reserved ingredients to your hearts content, streaming olive oil as you go. Otherwise you may have to chop your veggies a bit before throwing them in. Pasta's done? Perfect! Now add your asparagus, pine nuts, and sauce. Cook for about 5 more minutes to allow flavors to become acquainted.
My friend, you just ate asparagus!