This is a mash-up of Anne Burrell’s raw asparagus salad and ricotta pesto. While watching "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef," I saw Chef Burrell making a raw asparagus salad. I practically ran to the grocery to get the ingredients, found it to be delicious, and have made it multiple times since. I was inspired to turn it into a ricotta pesto while brainstorming for the contest. —hardlikearmour
Test Kitchen Notes
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!). We served it as a spread with crackers and toasted baguette slices and it quickly vanished. — Weekly Greens —Weekly Greens
about 1 1/2 cups (enough to sauce 1 pound of pasta)
walnuts, toasted (or substitute pine nuts)
medium clove garlic, quartered
tightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
extra-virgin olive oil
asparagus, rinsed and tough ends removed
diced red onion
shredded Pecorino Romano (about 1 cup)
fresh whole milk ricotta (about 3/4 cup)
freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Place walnuts in bowl of food processor and pulse several times to coarsely chop. Add garlic and parsley and pulse several times to combine. Drizzle in olive oil while pulsing several more times. Scrape sides of bowl and pulse a few more times. Mixture should be pretty homogenous, with no large chunks of nuts or garlic.
Cut asparagus stalks into about 1-inch pieces and add to bowl of food processor. Add diced onion as well. Pulse several times to combine. Asparagus will be coarsely chopped at this point. Scrape sides of bowl.
Add Pecorino, ricotta, pepper, and salt. Pulse until thoroughly combined, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer to serving container, taste, and stir in additional salt or pepper if needed. Spread on crusty bread or use as a dip for grissini or pita chips.
To use as a pasta sauce: Cook pasta as directed on package in well-salted water. Drain pasta, reserving about 2/3 cup of cooking water. Return pasta to pot and mix pesto and 1/3 cup of the cooking water in. Add more cooking water and/or olive oil if needed. Divide into bowls and garnish with some shaved Pecorino.
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.