Pasta Salad with Asparagus-Mint Pesto
Walk through any farmers’ market or well-stocked supermarket aisle and you’ll see bundles upon bundles of fresh, local asparagus. Likewise, the table at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, where I went for a lunch a few weekends ago, on a trip organized by Food For Thought Tours. There, I was served asparagus on top of fresh baby greens, and, most unusual, it was all drizzed with a puree of more asparagus and mint. I tried to recreate these fresh flavors in this dish, using the asparagus stalks to create a creamy, thick pesto that amplifies the full flavor of the ingredients.
2 lb asparagus
1 lb fusilli
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup mint leaves, tightly packed
2 cloves garlic
1 lemon, juiced
½ cup grated parmesan
¾ cup pinenuts, toasted
¼ cup olive oil
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Blanche the asparagus for a few minutes, until just tender. Remove with tongs to an ice bath or a colander until running cold water. Set aside. Return the water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. During the last minute of cooking, add the peas. Drain in a colander.
2. While the pasta is cooking, cut the asparagus into 1 inch pieces. Using the bottom third of the stalks, add 1 cup of asparagus stalks to a small food processor. Pulse the asparagus along with the mint, garlic, lemon juice, and ¼ cup of the pinenuts. Mix in the parmesan and salt to taste.
3. Toss together the pasta, peas, remaining asparagus, toasted pinenuts, and pesto. Best if served immediately. If serving room temperature, make sure you re-taste for seasoning once the pasta has cooled.