Meatless Mondays: Asparagus Pesto

We had this tasty springtime vegetarian dinner last night.  I had some asparagus that I wanted to use so I searched for a vegetarian recipe for meatless Monday.  I had never seen asparagus pesto before so I had to give it a shot!

I made a couple of changes to the recipe.  I used Italian parsley instead of basil and added 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese to the asparagus mixture in the food processor.  I also used whole wheat spaghetti rather than spinach pasta because I had some in the pantry.

The dish was tasty — very fresh and light for the spring.  Next time, to save a little time, I might skip the step of sauteing the shallot and adding the broth to the pesto.  I think the recipe would be delicious if you just tossed the hot pasta with the pesto and added a little pasta water to make the sauce.

Spinach Pasta with Asparagus Pesto
Real Simple

  • 1/2 pound green asparagus, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 ounce pine nuts (2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 pound spinach spaghetti
  • 1 ounce Parmesan, freshly grated (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
Place the asparagus in a pot of lightly salted boiling water and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender-crisp. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Cut the spears in half and roughly chop the stalk bottoms and cut the tops into 1-inch pieces.
In a food processor, combine the chopped bottoms, garlic, basil, pine nuts, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. With the motor running, pour in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and process until finely chopped.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the asparagus mixture and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and asparagus tops and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid is thickened, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions until al dente. Drain the spaghetti and add it to the skillet. Add the Parmesan, pepper, basil, and remaining salt, and toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

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