A collection of seasonal recipes and stories

asparagus pesto tortellini

Asparagus appeared in the co-op’s local produce section a few weeks ago, like magic.  As if I wasn’t already high enough on spring.  And because there’s a very short window before it’s back to dried out ol’ Peruvian asparagus, I’ve been buying several pounds of it at a time.  Much as I’d like to, I’m not capable of eating several pounds of asparagus a week, and Chris wouldn’t touch asparagus even if it was deep fried and enveloped in multiple layers of bacon.

He is, however, a huge fan of pesto, and after stumbling upon this recipe at epicurious, it occurred to me that pesto made with asparagus might not look so different from pesto made with basil.  Plus, you can do a hell of a lot with pesto, including freezing it, and the idea of a dollop of asparagus on baked fish in the dead of winter was rather appealing.  

So I tossed a pound of asparagus and a few cloves of garlic into a baking pan with a little olive oil and a little salt, roasted it for about ten minutes, then dumped it all into the food processor with a handful of toasted pine nuts, some grated parmesan, and more olive oil.  And voila, asparagus pesto.

And you know what’s fun to do with pesto?  Spend an hour or so scooping it onto little squares of dough and then twisting it into tortellini.  Seriously, way more fun than merely tossing it with warm pasta.

You could just as easily do ravioli, but every time I’ve tried to make ravioli (i.e., once) the filling’s oozed out into the pasta cooking water, leaving me with a decidedly less flavorful dish than I ever would have made on purpose.  So I stick to tortellini. 

I would have been perfectly content to toss the tortellini and some pesto into a bowl and call it a night, but this particular tortellini was crying out for a lemon cream sauce.  And one simply does not argue with asparagus-stuffed tortellini.

Asparagus Pesto Tortellini
adapted from Gourmet
(serves 2)

1 lb. asparagus*
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. + 2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. + 2 T. pine nuts, toasted (or substitute walnut pieces)
2/3 c. grated parmesan
24 store-bought wonton wrappers

1) Trim woody ends from asparagus. Cut asparagus stalks crosswise into 2-inch pieces, reserving tips.  Toss the asparagus and garlic into a baking pan, then drizzle with 2 T. olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast @ 450° for about 10 minutes.

2) Dump the roasted asparagus and garlic into a food processor (or blender?) along with 1/4 c. toasted pine nuts, 1/3 c. olive oil, and the grated parmesan. Process (or blend) until combined.

3) Spread the wonton wrappers out on a baking sheet or cutting board. Place a small dollop of pesto in the center of each and then fold them up into tortellini.

4) Gently drop the tortellini into a pot of boiling, salted water and boil until they rise to the top, about 3 minutes. Drain.

5) Toss the tortellini with the lemon cream sauce, a dollop of pesto, and the reserved asparagus tips, then sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

Lemon Cream Sauce

1/2 c. heavy cream
juice & zest of half a lemon
salt & pepper to taste 

Combine in small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat until the mixture bubbles gently.

*One pound of asparagus makes way more pesto than you need for this dish.  The recipe is easily halved if you can somehow restrain yourself in the face of fresh local asparagus, but the pesto freezes well so I’d be more inclined to double the recipe than to halve it.

15 responses

  1. Meaghan

    My goodness! Are you on your way to Master Chefdom? Michigan has unleashed the chef!

    July 22, 2008 at 11:13 am

  2. Thank God you’re blogging again!

    I just tried making cheese–go over to the land of lu and check it out.

    July 22, 2008 at 11:52 am

  3. You’re off to a great start here. I’m hungry already.

    We tried to grow asparagus years ago when we first had a garden and it was a big flop.

    Chris, look on the bright side–after eating all that asparagus you
    can post about stinky pee.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:18 am

  4. That looks beautiful! And what a great start…

    July 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

  5. Looks tasty. And great photography. Some other guys blog sent me.

    July 23, 2008 at 10:22 am

  6. I love asparagus. Can I come for dinner? That dish looks yummy!

    July 23, 2008 at 11:45 am

  7. OMG woman, I love you.
    Dump Chris and move to Kentucky.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:36 pm

  8. Thank sweet Christ that you used store-bought wrappers, or I was going to have to really really hate you.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:40 pm

  9. Man, that looks good. I’m always looking for new recipes so I will be back.
    Oh, some dude sent me.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:51 pm

  10. Some guy sent me too. That dish looks wonderful…Can’t wait to see more :)


    July 23, 2008 at 6:03 pm

  11. whenharrymetsalad

    Thanks for the warm welcome, everybody! I love love LOVE asparagus – this probably isn’t the best way to showcase it, but it is a pretty good way to get vegetable-hating boyfriends (or kids) to eat it.

    July 23, 2008 at 11:44 pm

  12. cheer34

    Keep the recipes coming….I have been looking for new ideas and you have provided me with some. Thank you!

    July 24, 2008 at 9:49 am

  13. Delicious!

    July 24, 2008 at 10:52 am

  14. I made asparagus pesto this morning right after I made my butternut squash soup. Thank you for the recipe.
    I neglected to separate it out when I placed it in the freezer however. I’ll have to hit it with a hammer to get a suitable one person portion. I live to learn!

    July 27, 2008 at 6:58 pm

  15. I hate pesto.

    July 31, 2008 at 4:32 pm

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