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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Asparagus Pesto

I have to admit, I am a fool for anything with the name pesto in it. I adore basil (as much as any person can adore an herb), and by the time you add some garlic to it, I am in flavor heaven.

I also happen to be a fool for asparagus. I was thrilled to see it it my Abundant Harvest Box this week. I have read that there are many cultures who see the first asparagus as the official start to spring, and hold festivals to celebrate its arrival. I totally get it.

When two worlds collide, and I see a veggie I love and a recipe that intrigues me on the same day, I know the vegetable gods are asking that I make it. Who am I to defy the gods?

This pesto is everything I hoped for. The salty, garlic-y, basil-y nutty flavors were perfect. It's not a sauce so much as a paste, and it seems perfect for spreading on crackers or crostini for an appetizer, or with chicken, pork, or fish for a delicious main dish. If you wanted to toss it with pasta I would recommend adding a bit more oil, and letting it puree finer. I served it with chicken breasts that I grilled. A big salad and some fresh strawberries and orange slices, and it was a perfect spring dinner.

Asparagus Pesto
(Adapted from here)

one pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cashews
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

First, steam the asparagus until tender. I used a microwave steamer that I love for its handiness, but you can do it on the stovetop as well. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor, whir the garlic cloves until they are chopped pretty finely. (This way no big chunks will be left to overpower any one mouthful). Add the remaining ingredients, and pulse until they are all chopped finely and mixed well, but not pureed into a sauce. You want some bite to it.

That's it! Serve it with your favorite accompaniment!