Spring for Asparagus


Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris

The weather is changing at last, and yes! Asparagus is appearing in markets! Grilling, roasting and steaming are our favorite methods of preparing, but it takes the genius of Mark Bittman to go further with give us an incredibly simple asparagus pesto recipe that lets you use the whole stalk! The peel, which we discard, contains a ton of flavor even though it’s sometimes too tough and stringy to eat. Puréeing lets you sidestep this issue: you keep the peel, and the flavor, but your food processor pulverizes the fibres, even if you use thick spears.

This pesto is a wonderful addition to fish, chicken or pasta, and will keep in the fridge covered for up to a day. Thanks, Mark!

Asparagus Pesto

asparagus pesto

YIELD 4 to 6 servings (about 1½ cups)
TIME 20 minutes

  • Salt
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments
  • 1 clove garlic, or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, or more as desired
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the asparagus and cook until fully tender but not mushy, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well, reserving some of the cooking liquid, and let the asparagus cool slightly.
  2. Transfer the asparagus to a food processor and add the garlic, pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of the oil, Parmesan, a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and gradually add the remaining oil and a bit more of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten if necessary. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste, pulse one last time, and serve.

Tony’s wine recommendation: Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire or New Zealand.

We wish to thank New York Times Cooking for permission to publish this material and photograph. For more information and recipes, go to cooking.nytimes.com.

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