My dear friend and great cook Cindy raved about this recipe during the peak of asparagus season.  Full disclosure: the year was 2010.  Yes, it takes me a while to get to important stuff, but I finally made it. Better late than never!  I am fond of the traditional Genovese pesto, but often find it a bit overwhelming.  This version takes just a bit of basil in a sea of asparagus, and I guarantee if you make it even the die-hard asparagus haters (like two of my stepsons ;-)) will fall for it.

(adapted from Cindy, who adapted it from Michael Chiarello)

1 lb asparagus|
1 cup (lightly packed) basil leaves
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
1 clove garlic, sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup low fat yogurt
about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Boil the asparagus in salted water until very tender. Drain, reserving the water, and cool slightly. Put in a food processor with the all of the other ingredients except the oil, and puree well. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Taste and adjust for seasonings and consistency. It should be about the thickness of mayonnaise.

Return the water used for cooking the asparagus to a boil and cook pasta. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Mix the pasta and pesto, thinning with the pasta cooking water as necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning.


to print the recipe, click here

We had this pasta with a juicy, thick salmon steak, cooked to perfection by the master grilling-guru whom I married 12 and a half happy years ago.  The pesto was excellent with the whole wheat pasta, but a small amount topping the hot salmon just as it left the grill was mind-blowing delicious!    I actually think grilled salmon and asparagus pesto might be the gastronomic discovery of 2012 for me, and I have to thank Cindy for it.

And now, for something completely different, once again.  While reading Sawsan’s blog, Chef in Disguise, I learned that she’s got two awards:  The Versatile Blogger, and Very Inspiring Blogger.  I smiled and told myself  “she definitely deserves them both!”.    Much to my surprise and delight, she passed them to a few bloggers and there was the Bewitching Kitchen! Now I am the proud receiver of those awards too!   Versatile, maybe. Inspiring?  Wow, that would be awesome…

Thanks so much, Sawsan!

ONE YEAR AGO: Chocolate and Chestnut Terrine

TWO YEARS AGO: Under the spell of lemongrass

THREE YEARS AGO: Greens + Grapefruit + Shrimp = Great Salad!

37 thoughts on “ASPARAGUS PESTO

  1. Oh, there is no doubt that I shall
    1. make this recipe!
    2. enjoy this recipe!
    3. pass on this recipe!
    Absolutely love pesto, still have a tendency to regard it as a basil ‘thing’ and am delighted to find this asparagus suggestion, the latter almost in full season here in Oz! And love the inclusion of the yogurt! Bookmarked!!


    • I am very fond of yogurt and use it in many recipes that traditionally would not call for it – and apart from recipes, I eat a HUGE amount of yogurt every day.

      thanks for stopping by, hope you try this recipe soon…


  2. Congrats on the well deserved awards! I’ve made a variety of pesto recipes including spinach, arugula, even broccoli (with very mixed reviews) and will definitely do the asparagus, can actually imagine the taste over grilled salmon, sounds like a perfect match! Thanx for sharing!


    • ah, the broccoli pesto! I made it a few times, and I think the secret is cooking it very very little. Two minutes tops. Otherwise the taste is just not right once you process it. But indeed, of all the veggies it is certainly the trickiest to turn into a great pesto


  3. First of all, congrats on the very apropos awards, Sally! We all feel about you and your blog the way people obviously feel about Sawsan. The pesto recipe looks great. I will make it when in a place where asparagus doesn’t cost close to $8 a pound! I love the versatility of the pesto concept. Ever try it with arugula as the main ingredient? Yummy.


  4. Of course you deserve BOTH awards! I get lots of inspiration from BK. I will definitely try the addition of lemon to the pesto as well as using it as a topper for salmon – both are great ideas. And thank you for your kind words.


    • yes, later on….. we all know,,,, 😉 I might get in trouble with the pesto police, but I find the pine nuts add very little to the taste and cut too large a chunk of money from the wallet ;-0


  5. In Spring, one of my favorite pasta dishes uses both pesto and asparagus, so, this pesto sounds perfect for me. And I’m sure that serving some upon freshly grilled salmon must have been fantastic. Thanks for passing along the recipe.


  6. I love the idea of this and can’t wait for the english asparagus season to come round again next year 🙂 Versatile ? definitely. Smart and funny? Absolutely. Inspiring? Sure thing xx


    • OH, you made my day – I’ve been walking around with a smile and telling Phil to watch out because being aware that I am versatile, smart, funny, AND inspiring, means he will be in a ton of trouble. 😉


  7. As soon as you mentioned having salmon along with the pasta dish, I thought this pesto would be perfect on the salmon….and there you did it! I could eat this by the spoonful! Congrats on your very well deserved awards!!


  8. Pingback: Almond Pesto?? Sounds like Heaven to me…. « pattytmitchell

  9. This was so delicious that I actually licked the bowl of the food processor! Of course you can serve it on pasta, but it would also be nice as a dressing for tomatoes, as a dip for crostini or crackers–anything to which you might add regular pesto. Thanks.


  10. Pingback: SRC: Moroccan Carrots | Sew You Think You Can Cook

  11. Cilantro Pesto added to the cheese filling for ravioli and to the white sauce or Alfredo sauce used to dress the pasta can be amazing.


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