Last season, when I had lunch at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, I was served asparagus on top of fresh baby greens, and, most unusual, the salad was drizzed with a puree of more asparagus and mint. The dressing was heavenly, and I went home immediately to try and recreate it. I made a pesto, using the asparagus stalks to create a creamy, thick sauce that prevents the woodier part of the vegetable from going to waste and amplifies the full flavor of the ingredients. Toss the delicate heads with some fusilli and this pesto and you have a perfect Spring meal. —PhoebeLapine
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Blanche the asparagus for a few minutes, until just tender. Remove with tongs to an ice bath. Drain and set aside.
Replace the pot with fresh water and salt and bring it to boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain in a colander.
While the pasta is cooking, cut the asparagus into 1 inch pieces. Add the pieces from the top two thirds of the stalks to a large bowl. Add 1 cup of the bottom pieces to a small food processor. Pulse the asparagus along with the mint, garlic, lemon juice, ¼ cup of the pinenuts, olive oil and salt. Mix in the parmesan and taste for seasoning.
Add the cooked pasta to the bowl and toss together with the peas, remaining asparagus and pinenuts, and pesto. Best if served immediately.
Phoebe is a writer, gluten-free chef, culinary instructor, award-winning blogger, and author of The Wellness Project. You can find her healthy comfort food and gluten-free finds on www.FeedMePhoebe.com