Asparagus and Mint Pesto


My husband hails from Genova, home of the true, original, basil pesto and I love to torture him by using the term very loosely. So while he couldn’t approve of today’s title, he definitely approved of the pasta; and this is a man who isn’t famous for loving his veggies. It’s my favorite vegetable season, however, and I’m always looking for new ways to take advantage of the asparagus and fresh peas while they’re at the market, riling up the Genovese is just an added bonus!

Asparagus and Mint Pesto

  • about 20 asparagus spears
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 cup (100 g) fresh or frozen peas
  • 10-15 mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup (50 g) di parmigiano reggiano grattugiato
  • 14 oz egg fettuccine pasta
  • extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Wash the asparagus and cut off the hard ends. Using a vegetable peeler, slice half of the asparagus into thin ribbons, set aside. Cut the other half of the spears into one-inch chunks. Cook the chunks of asparagus in the boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving the water in the pot. Blanch the asparagus ribbons  in the boiling water for 1 minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to an ice bath, reserving boiling water in the pot.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and sauté the shallot until translucent. Add the asparagus chunks and continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add the peas and sauté until just thawed or cooked, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions in the asparagus water.

Puree the cooked vegetables in a blender with the mint, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and a tablespoon of the pasta water. Transfer to a large serving bowl and stir in the grated cheese. Add salt to taste and add more oil or water to reach the desired consistency.

Strain the pasta and transfer to the serving bowl with the pesto. Mix well and garnish with the asparagus ribbons. Serve immediately.

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