So after I made all that pickled asparagus, trimmed down to fit in pint jars, I was faced with a gallon bag of asparagus ends that I was too stubborn to
The very next day in the New York Times (kismet! fate! serendipity!), Mark Bittman's Minimalist column suggested asparagus pesto. It turned out to be an absolutely perfect way to use up not-so-pretty bits and bobs of asparagus. We ate it that first day as a sauce for seared scallops, but the next day I used it on another leftovers pizza and it really shone: the garlic mellowed out and the asparagus flavor deepened in the heat of the oven. We had half an onion in the fridge, so I sliced that very thinly and sprinkled it on top. We also had an open package of turkey bacon, so I cooked up a couple of strips until they were almost done, then sliced those up and layered them in with the onion. Ten minutes or so in a super hot oven and dinner was ready to go.
adapted to use what I had from the New York Times
the end pieces of four bunches of asparagus, woody ends removed (or one bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed, cut in 1-2 inch lengths)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
a handful of pine nuts (about 1/4 cup)
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan (I bet pecorino romano would be good in this, too)
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
zest and juice of half a lemon
freshly ground black pepper
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the asparagus until tender, but not mushy, 5-8 minutes. Drain, reserving some cooking liquid.
Put the pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse to combine and chop the nuts. Add asparagus, cheese, and lemon zest, and pulse to start the process. Add the lemon juice and a few tablespoons of olive oil, pulse a few times again and taste the pesto. It will probably need more olive oil, add it now and pulse again. Add some black pepper, a few turns of the grinder, and (wait for it!) pulse again. If the pesto still seems dry, add olive oil or some of the reserved cooking liquid. Continue in this manner, tasting and adding oil or pepper (or lemon juice?) until you reach the consistency and flavor you like.
Use as a sauce for fish or pasta, or on pizza. Asparagus pesto keeps for a day or two in the fridge.