Weekday Vegetarian: Beyond Basil - Making Asparagus Pesto


You don't have to wait until late summer when the basil plants are huge to make pesto. You can make pesto out all kinds of vegetables. I still had lots of asparagus left over from my pickling, and pesto seemed like the perfect solution. I had centre pieces, but no asparagus tips and with pesto, that doesn't matter at all.I thought since I was changing the base from herb to vegetable, I would change around the nuts and cheese as well. With traditional basil pesto you use pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. I'm having a lot of trouble finding pine nuts these days, and when I do find them they are prohibitively expensive, so I went for cheaper and easier walnuts. You could toast them if you want to, but I just tossed them into the food processor as is. I also used some extra old cheddar which added a nice bite to the pesto.

I was really pleased with the results of this pesto, and I thought it was good enough to serve to company. I put it over pasta, but you could use it with grilled vegetables, or fish or chicken. If you are using it on pasta, add a little bit of the cooking water to make a smooth sauce. You can freeze this quite easily, just leave the cheese out.

Asparagus Pesto

2 cups asparagus stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup extra old cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter

1. Heat water in a large pot until boiling and add asparagus. Cook until tender, about 7 or 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

2. Place asparagus in a food processor and add walnuts. While food processor is running add olive oil until the pesto is the consistency you want. You may not need all of the olive oil.

3. Stir in cheese and butter, and add salt and pepper to taste.

More Pesto Recipes
Walnut Pesto
Hazelnut Pesto
White Bean and Parsley Pesto

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