If you ask people who grew up in Wenatchee during a time when orchards seemed more plentiful than houses, a fair number of them will remember harvesting the asparagus that grew under fruit trees. Orchards aren't quite as plentiful in town as they once were, but good, fresh asparagus is still a sign that summer is here, even if most of us buy it at the market rather than forage for it under the leafy branches of an apple tree. Asparagus, that delicous harbinger of warmer weather, adds a beautiful green freshness to this otherwise classic pesto. The uses for pesto feel nearly endless, but we especially love this Asparagus Pesto on grilled chicken or spread on fresh, warm flatbread.

ASPARAGUS PESTO

Ingredients:

8 oz. asparagus

1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel Salt for blanching

1 small bunch basil (2 oz.) – leaves removed from stalks

6 parsley sprigs – tough stems removed

12 mint leaves

1 garlic clove – skinned

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon Fleur de Sel Salt

Freshly ground Tellicherry Pepper to taste

1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan

1/3 cup D’Olivo Basil Infused Olive Oil

Directions:

Snap the bottom of the stems off the asparagus. Cut off the tips and reserve them for another use (or use as garnish). Cut the stems in 1” pieces. You should have about one cup of asparagus pieces or 5 oz.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and several ice cubes and set aside. When the water is boiling, add the salt and the asparagus pieces. Boil for 2 minutes until the asparagus turn bright green and are barely tender. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water bath. As soon as they’ve cooled, place the asparagus pieces on a clean kitchen towel. Using the same pot of water, blanch the basil for 15 seconds, pushing the leaves down so that they are submerged in the boiling water. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place in the ice water bath. As soon as they’ve cooled, squeeze all the water out of the leaves and place on a clean kitchen towel.

Place the asparagus pieces in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the basil in 1” pieces with scissors and add to the asparagus. Then add the Italian parsley, mint, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Parmesan and D'Olivo Basil Olive Oil. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Scrape the sides of the bowl and  then process until very smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl, use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

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