When the season gives you asparagus, green garlic, and tons of herbs, you should make this pasta dish. Chewy gemelli is one of the finest shapes for lemony parsley pesto to cling to, and just-cooked asparagus mimics its chunky look, making this a recipe that’s ultra pleasing to the eye as well as the tongue.
My husband believes he was born to eat pesto, and so we eat a lot of the stuff, varying the herbs and the vegetables depending on the season and what we have available. One of the tricks that comes in handy no matter which version we’re making is adding both lemon juice and lemon zest, a move the elevates the paste beyond anything you could purchase ready made.
A fruity wine with some structure complements the greenness and the welcome oily nature of a good pesto. I found just wanted I wanted in a pesto pairing wine in K-J AVANT Red Blend, which tastes of berries and transports me, when sipped between bites of this pasta, to Italy.
Though it’s delicious warm, this pasta holds up great for several hours, making it a sweet picnic or barbecue side dish option.
- 1 clove garlic
- Coarse salt
- ¼ cup pine nuts or slivered almonds (or use all pine nuts), toasted
- 2 cups packed fresh parsley leaves (it's okay if a few stems get in there)
- 1 lemon
- Olive oil
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus, ends snapped off, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 2 stalks green garlic, thinly sliced
- ⅔ pound gemelli (twisted pasta)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Place the garlic and a pinch of salt in a mini food processor. Pulse to pulverize, then add the almonds and parsley. Zest the lemon and add that too. Drizzle in about ¼ cup of oil, enough to make a very smooth paste. Add the Parmesan, mix again, then taste for salt, adding more as needed. Set the pesto aside.
- When the water boils, add a bunch of salt to the water, then throw in the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions, until 1 minute shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water and drain.
- Set a skillet large enough to hold all the pasta over medium heat and add enough oil to film the bottom completely. Add the sliced green garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until soft, then add the asparagus and cook another 4 to 6 minutes, until just tender. Add the pasta and the pesto to the skillet and stir to mix, pouring in the reserved cooking water a tablespoon or two at a time, until the pesto really coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over everything, then stir again, and add more salt if needed. Serve, garnished with extra parm.