Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Requirements - Asparagus Pesto

There are so many things to like about Summer. Warm weather, picnics and BBQ's, swimming and long and lazy evenings where the sun doesn't even sink till 9. The summer road trip is another much beloved tradition. I like to do as many of these as I can throughout the summer months. This past weekend brought the inaugural trip, in which we headed to Palm Springs (more on that later) and I plan to continue the trend with two more upcoming trips. I've been hearing the siren song to get out of town, and I am more than happy to heed the call.

When preparing to get out of town, I require the following:
  • Access to a fast car with a full tank of gas, preferably with air conditioning
  • A well rounded supply of music, at least several good mix cd's, ipod playlists, mix tapes, whathaveyou
  • Snyder's sourdough pretzels (the giant kind)
  • Strong coffee and plenty of water
  • A necessary pit-stop at either Granzellas Italian Deli (if headed North on the I5) or In n' Out (if traveling in California)
  • A keen eye to be on the lookout for various road-side attractions (such as the Robotic Dinosaur Museum just outside of Palm Springs (again: more on that subject later))

The above is made even better when a few dear friends are thrown into the mix. But the solo road trip is not to be overlooked. It's good for the soul, for clearing one's head, and for just being still with yourself...all whilst moving 70mph.

There's not a lot of cooking going on in my studio this week. Too much going on in between trips. But I do have some leftover asparagus pesto, recipe courtesy of Mark Bittman. I ate this on crostini and in pasta, I confess I even had it straight out of the bowl in the fridge from a spoon. Pesto is something I hadn't considered making with asparagus before, but I think it's a good addition to the repertoire. Asparagus is everywhere these days, and I always seem to have an extra bunch in the fridge that requires something be done with it before I can hit the market again. I think this would be excellent served over pasta, with some roasted asparagus on top. Or, as I did, even just eaten straight off the spoon.

Asparagus Pesto
adapted from Mark Bittman

1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic (the recipe calls for 1, I love garlic and added 2, but found even that to be too mild)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
juice of 1/2 lemon or more
freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil and salt it. Blanch the asparagus until just tender, about 6 minutes.
Drain, but reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Let the asparagus cool slightly.

In a food processor, combine asparagus, pine nuts, 2 tbsp of the olive oil, Parmesan, a pinch of salt, and a couple tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Process the ingredients , pausing to scrape down the mixture from the sides of the container so everything is well-combined. Gradually add the oil and a bit more of the cooking liquid to moisten, if necessary. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pulse to combine one last time, scoop into a bowl and serve with toasted bread, pasta, chicken and/or fish.

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