This nutty asparagus basil pesto is so good you’d want to put it on almost anything. It's easy to make and comes together in ten minutes.
I make a huge batch of this recipe during spring or summer when asparagus and basil are abundant. I then freeze it to use in the colder months; that way, I can enjoy Pesto year-round. The pesto act as a nice base for this flatbread pizza. You've got to try it!
Reasons to Love This Pesto
- Fresh and Vibrant: Asparagus pesto brings a burst of freshness to your plate. The vibrant green color and earthy flavor make it a delightful addition to any dish. Perfect for this Flatbread pizza.
- Healthier Twist: It's a nutritious alternative to traditional pesto. Asparagus is loaded with vitamins and minerals, making this pesto a guilt-free way to amp up your meals.
- Unique Flavor Profile: Asparagus adds a unique and slightly nutty taste to the pesto. Its distinct flavor can elevate pasta, sandwiches, or even as a dip for veggies.
- Versatile: it can be used in various ways – as a sauce for my Chicken Caprese pasta salad, sandwich spread, or even as a dip for veggies. Its versatility opens up a world of creativity.
- Quick and Easy: this nutty pesto is easy to whip up. Ten minutes is all you need to have this sauce/dip on the table.
Here are the main Ingredients you'll need for the asparagus basil pesto:
- Asparagus: These tender asparagus spears provide a vibrant green color and a subtle, earthy flavor that serves as the base for the pesto.
- Pine Nuts: these nuts contribute a rich and nutty taste, adding depth and a slightly creamy texture to the pesto. (see the recipe note on how to toast pinenuts)
- Fresh basil: Basil brings a burst of freshness and an aromatic flavor that enhances the overall flavor profile of the pesto.
- Garlic cloves: Garlic infuses the pesto with its distinct pungency and depth of flavor, enhancing the dish's overall taste.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Olive oil binds the ingredients together, creating a smooth and spreadable texture while adding a luscious, fruity note.
- Parmesan: Parmesan cheese provides a savory and salty kick, balancing the flavors and adding a touch of umami to the pesto.
Here is how to make pesto with asparagus:
Step 1: Rinse asparagus and pat dry with paper/kitchen towel. Trim the ends (the hard part) and cut them in half.
Step 2: Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté the asparagus, tossing it frequently. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until it gets a charred finish.
Step 3: Place the asparagus, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, toasted pine nuts, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until roughly blended.
Step 4: Add the parmesan and pulse some more or until you reach the desired consistency.
Transfer pesto into a jar or bowl, swirl a little oil on top, and enjoy
I paired mine with some colorful gourmet Marella durum wheat pasta, extra asparagus spears, and grape tomatoes. It was simply scrumptious.
Top Tips for Success
- Opt for fresh asparagus with bright green stalks. Avoid asparagus that looks wilted or has a woody texture at the ends.
- Rim the tough, woody ends of the asparagus before using them in the pesto. You can snap off the ends where they naturally break or use a knife to trim them.
- Use fresh basil, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and high-quality nuts (pine nuts or walnuts) for the best flavor.
- Toasting the nuts before adding them to the pesto enhances their flavor. You can do this in a dry skillet over medium heat until they become fragrant and slightly browned. (see recipe notes)
- Be mindful of the garlic. If you prefer a milder garlic flavor, use fewer cloves or roasted garlic for a sweeter, less intense taste.
- Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste, but remember that Parmesan cheese can be salty, so adjust accordingly.
- Depending on your preference, you can make the pesto smoother or chunkier by adjusting the amount of olive oil and blending time.
- Store your asparagus pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To prevent oxidation, drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the surface before sealing.
What to Serve it with
To add a fresh and delicious twist to your meals, try serving the asparagus pesto:
- Pasta sauce
- Sandwich spread
- alongside grilled meats
Be creative and try it with various dishes to discover your favorite pairings.
Store leftover nutty asparagus basil pesto in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator for up to a week.
For an even fresher taste, place pesto sauce in an ice tray and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or countertop before use.
Absolutely! Asparagus can be a fantastic addition to pesto! Its mildly nutty flavor pairs beautifully with basil, creating a unique and vibrant pesto flavor. The added texture and green color make it visually appealing, and it's a great choice when asparagus is in season during the spring.
The best nuts for pesto are traditionally pine nuts (pignoli nuts). Pine nuts have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and a creamy texture that complements pesto ingredients, such as basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil.
Suppose you're looking for alternatives or have nut allergies. Consider using: walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and sunflowers.
Bitterness in cooked asparagus can result from overcooking, tough ends, aging, varietal differences, and cooking methods like boiling. To minimize bitterness, trim tough ends, cook until tender but not mushy, and opt for fresh, in-season asparagus when possible. Seasonal asparagus typically has a milder flavor.
Balancing it with ingredients like lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, or balsamic vinegar can also help reduce bitterness.
Love Basil? Try These Basil Related Recipes
I hope you’ll give this nutty asparagus basil pesto recipe a try. Share a picture of your pesto with us on social media using the hashtag worldlytreat(#worldlytreat). We’d love to join the soirée. Don’t forget to pin it for later.
Have a beautiful start to spring!!!
Peace & Love
Asparagus Basil Pesto
- Non-stick frying pan
- 1 bunch Asparagus head, about 1 lb
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon Red pepper flakes ( black pepper works too)
- ½ cup Extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon
- Juice of a Lemon, (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 cup packed fresh basil
- ¾ cup Toasted pine nut (start with ½ cup until desired taste)
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Rinse asparagus and pat dry with paper/kitchen towel. Trim the ends (the hard part) and cut them in half.1 bunch Asparagus head,
- Heat up a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the asparagus and saute for 4 minutes, tossing frequently. Add salt and pepper, and allow to cook for another minute or two or until charred.½ cup Extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon salt
- Place the asparagus, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, toasted pine nuts, basil, pepper flakes, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse 3-4 times or until roughly blended. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust to taste.(see how to toast pine nut below)2 Garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon Red pepper flakes, Juice of a Lemon,, 1 cup packed fresh basil , ¾ cup Toasted pine nut
- Add the parmesan and pulse some more or until you reach the desired consistency.⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Transfer the pesto into a jar or bowl, swirl a little oil on top, and enjoy.
- Tread lightly with the garlic. For a milder garlic kick, go easy on the cloves, or consider using roasted garlic for a sweeter, gentler flavor.
- Season your pesto with salt and pepper, but keep in mind that Parmesan cheese can add a salty punch, so taste and adjust as needed.
- Customize your pesto's texture to your liking by tweaking the olive oil quantity and blending time. Go smooth or chunky; your call.
- To keep your asparagus pesto fresh, stash it in an airtight container in the fridge. Prevent oxidation by drizzling a thin layer of olive oil on top before sealing.