Sunday, May 4, 2008

Asparagus Pesto with potatoes and pasta!

I finally found a somewhat healthy challenge, and I'm jumping in! Vindicate the Vegetable picks a veggie each week to try out. This week was asparagus, and I found an unexpected recipe for asparagus pesto, which was a nice change from my default, which would be roasted asparagus (which I love). This came from a Food Network recipe, but I ended up changing the pasta and potatoes because I couldn't find those called for in the recipe. I think it worked out well, and ended up being a fun, colorful change.

I also just melted the lid to my food processor, and it absolutely will not turn on without the lid locked in place. So, this pesto is a miracle magic bullet creation!

Asparagus Pesto with Potatoes and Pasta

1 bunch asparagus, about 1 pound, trimmed and cooked for 5 minutes in boiling, salted water (reserve water for pasta)
1/2 cup packed coarsely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
8 cloves minced garlic
Gray salt and freshly ground pepper
About 1 cup pure olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 pound fingerling potatoes, chopped to about 1/2-1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups uncut fresh basil leaves
Gray salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound dried veggie rigatoni
About 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cut the cooked asparagus spears into thirds.
Put in a food processor with the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt and pepper, to taste.
With the machine running, slowly add the cup of olive oil.
When the sauce is about the consistency of mayonnaise, it has enough oil.
Pulse in the Parmesan.
Thin with water if necessary to achieve a slick, saucy pesto.
Scrape into a bowl or jar, cover, and refrigerate until needed.
You should have about 3 cups of very bright green goo
(Keeps about 2 to 3 days, refrigerated.)

Put the potatoes in a pan of salted cold water to cover and bring to a boil.
Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
Drain and let cool for a few minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat until hot.
Add the potatoes and cook until browned and crispy all over, about 5 minutes.
Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Keep warm.
Add basil, toss with potatoes and set aside.
While the potatoes are browning, return the water used for cooking the asparagus, if reserved, to a boil or bring a new pot of water to a boil.
Add more salt and the pasta and cook until al dente, about 12 minutes.
Drain through a colander, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Pour the pasta into a warm serving bowl, add the potatoes, about 1 cup of the asparagus pesto, several twists of pepper, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.
Toss well, thinning with the pasta cooking water as necessary.

Dust with a light grating of Parmesan (a microplane grater works well for this) before serving and pass the remaining cheese and a bowl of pesto at the table.


Anonymous said...

Looks wonderful! I never knew you could make pesto with asparagus. Thanks for entering VTV!

Elizabeth said...

Ninabeth: Thanks! It was definitely a new idea to me too, bu I think I'm in love!

LisaRene said...

Asparagus pesto is a great way for me to get my husband to eat asparagus :) Love the whole basil in the pasta!