Creamy Raw Asparagus Pesto

By • March 15, 2011 12 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a mash-up of a raw asparagus salad recipe from Anne Burrell 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. - hardlikearmourhardlikearmour

Food52 Review: 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 GreensWeekly Greens


Makes about 1 & 1/2 cups (enough to sauce 1 lb of pasta)

  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted (may sub 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 additional to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt, plus additional to taste
  1. 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 olive oil in 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. To use as a pasta sauce: Cook pasta as directed on package in well-salted water. Drain pasta, but reserve about 2/3 of a 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. Divided into bowls, and garnish with some shaved pecorino.

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