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Your Asparagus Isn’t Too Precious for This Creamy, Springy Pesto

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As Food52 gets older (and wiser), and our archive of recipes grows, we’re making the effort to revisit some favorite recipes from our community. Today’s springy pesto comes to us from longtime Food52er hardlikearmour.


“Asparagus is one of my favorite spring things,” says hardlikearmour, and I think that’s true for many of us. Asparagus is a harbinger of all the green to come, and, for hardlikearmour, a reminder of her childhood, when her family would go pick wild asparagus in the country. And while it’s much easier to find than trendy ramps and fiddleheads, we sometimes still tend to treat asparagus with kid gloves—gently cooking it and splaying the spears out on a platter, mostly unadorned and untampered with.

This pesto is stalk-full of asparagus.
This pesto is stalk-full of asparagus. Photo by Julia Gartland

By all means, do that with a bundle or two (maybe topped with salt and pepper whipped cream?), but then save some of your next asparagus haul for pesto. Yes, pesto. Here’s proof of why you should ruthlessly chop up those spring stalks, from tester Weekly Greens:

Hardlikearmour’s delightful pesto variation is an explosion of spring flavors. Classic pesto ingredients such as walnuts, olive oil, and cheese provide a solid foundation, but the asparagus steals the show by adding a more substantial texture and captivating color (not to mention a nutritional boost!).

This pesto does double duty, as you can use it on pasta (hardlikearmour recommends shorter shapes with nooks and crannies, “so you get a big pesto-to-pasta ratio!”), but since it’s so creamy, it’s also perfect as a dip or spread.

Creamy Raw Asparagus Pesto

Creamy Raw Asparagus Pesto

hardlikearmour hardlikearmour
Makes about 1 1/2 cups (enough to sauce 1 pound of pasta)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted (or substitute pine nuts)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, quartered
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, rinsed and tough ends removed
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 2 ounces shredded Pecorino Romano (about 1 cup)
  • 6 ounces fresh whole milk ricotta (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt, plus more to taste
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Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Pesto, Spring, Heirloom Recipes