One of my favorite things about spring is the abundance of fresh asparagus. It’s clearly the supermodel of its season, able to grow as much as 10 inches in a 24-hour period. Too bad (thank god?) my legs never grew that fast.
When I used to work at a CSA, picking baskets of the veggie was part of my daily morning routine. Given its constant growth spurts, a regular harvesting schedule is a necessity. Lucky for you and I, this should mean plenty of cheap asparagus at the farmer’s market stands every spring. Or a constant source of produce if you’re growing your own garden.
The first few times I take it to my kitchen, whether from my family’s garden or a local farmer, I always give my asparagus a simple steam with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar, or a quick saute with garlic, EVOO and lemon. Spring is of course the best time to eat the vibrant stalks, and its natural flavor should suffice. However, as every asparagus grower knows, if you’re endlessly harvesting your own, there’s only so much steamed asparagus one can eat before you fear your pee will smell horrible forever.
Luckily, I’ve always been able to get over the whole smelly pee things as long as I keep finding new and creative ways to make the veggie exciting. There’s definitely a ton you can do with it – Tacos, tartines, wraps, soups, you name it. One of my favorites is to dress it up with a simple Soy Asian Vinaigrette.
This is the first year I’ve ever tried to do an asparagus pesto, and I was pleasantly blown away with the results. This makes for a perfect sandwich spread, and would also go great with pasta – though I’d recommend drizzling in a little more olive oil before tossing it with your noodles. For sandwich material, keep it vegan and add it to other roasted veggies or a pressed and baked tofu, or add in some mozzarella and tomato.
- -1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
- -2 garlic cloves
- -1/3 cup almonds, raw and unsalted
- -1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- -1/2 tsp. crushed red chili pepper flakes
- -1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
- -1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, separated into 4 Tbsp.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Place asparagus in an even layer on sheet, and lightly coat with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and black pepper.
- Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until asparagus is tender.
- Let asparagus cool, then chop if needed and place in food processor. Add garlic, almonds, nutritional yeast, salt, chili pepper flakes and 1 tbsp. of the remaining olive oil. Pulse until smooth.
- Slowly add remaining olive oil. Taste, and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Pulse until ingredients are well combined and pesto is smooth.
- Serve over pasta, rice or bread.