Saturday, April 7, 2012

Asparagus Pesto

Time: 10 min
(5 min. prep/ 5 min cook)

Fresh Basil - I used one 'bunch,' so maybe 1-2 cups, firmly packed. More like 1 cup, I think.
Fresh lime thyme -  tiny amount, two little short sprigs, maybe one long sprig
Olive oil - to desired texture. I used a few Tb, I believe. Maybe 1/4 a cup, even.
sea salt to taste - I was pretty generous with this
Fresh asparagus - I had 1/2 of one bundle of med. thickness spears from the store. So, maybe 1/2 a pound?
fresh lemon juice - I used 1 1/2 tsps.

1. First, yeah - you'll note my precision measuring in this one, eh? ^_^ Sorry 'bout that, but you can play with it and see how you do! :-)  Put the fresh basil in a food processor with the sea salt and blend the crud out of it. You want to be able to still see pieces of leaves but they should be quite small.

2. Put the basil pulp into a bowl. At this point, I added the olive oil but I would hold off on that, based on how the recipe went.

3. Heat a few inches of water to boiling. Chop the asparagus into small pieces (mine were 1 inch long), separating the tips. When the water is boiling, dump in all the pieces but the tips and let simmer for 2 minutes. Add in the tips and let it return to a simmer/boil. Cook for 1 more minute and then drain. For newbie cooks like me, remember that the thickness of the stalks makes a difference in how long you cook the veggie. And the tips cook faster than the stalks, which is why we put 'em in last. Makes sense, yeah?

4. Put the asparagus into the food processor and process until desired texture, chunky or very smooth, your choice. Add this to the basil leaves.

5. Add in the thyme leaves. Add in the lemon juice, and now is a good time to add the oil - you can better judge the consistency if you wait to add the oil until now. Mix it with a fork, or back in the food processor, if you have one that's big enough. Adjust salt/lemon juice/oil to taste.

Feeds: Probably good for 4-5 big bowls of pasta. It makes enough to fill a regular cereal bowl 3/4 of the way full.

Shauna's Notes:
Inspired by: Alanna's Asparagus Tapenade at VeggieVentures. I've always loved pesto and have tried various veggies, but I never thought to try asparagus before! And when she added thyme, I knew I had to try to make a version my family could have!

Uses: Pesto is frequently used on pasta, but I've eaten it slathered over meat, as a spread for sandwiches or roll-ups, and as a dip for chips or veggies. I think this lemony version might do better as a spread or used with meat, as opposed to pasta.

What worked and didn't work: This is tricky, because I couldn't actually taste test this! According to my family, it had a nice flavor, and the lemon had a good zing to it. Before I added the lemon juice, it was fairly bland, I understand, and needed something to give it a little 'zing.'

What would improve it: The zing seems to be the thing. Most pesto uses garlic, which would probably give a nice zippiness to it if I could have it. My family thought something spicy, like chile, might do well with this, so I might try to add in a little raw chile pepper of some kind next time I make a pesto. If you are looking for a more traditional pesto, most folks add nuts in during the processing. PiƱon Nuts are traditional, but I've seen people make various pestos with other nuts as well, frequently hazelnuts (filberts) or walnuts.

LOW HISTAMINE DIET - dropping the lemon juice would make this recipe compliant with the low histamine diet lists I've seen.

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