Make asparagus pesto while the asparagus is abundant and freeze it in 4 ounce jars for later. Asparagus pesto will keep in the freezer for up to a year. Serve it over pizza, pasta, rice, or egg dishes for a unique twist on an old favorite.
Asparagus season is in full swing here in the mountains in British Columbia, but in most of the world the season has come to an end. We started our asparagus season a month ago by picking 30 pounds of asparagus at a local you-pick farm. But our own small patch of asparagus is now giving us a few spears to harvest every day. When the asparagus season begins I make jars of fermented asparagus spears, add asparagus to soups and stews, and freeze asparagus in quart bags for winter use. But after awhile it’s time to change it up.
That’s where asparagus pesto really shines. It’s lovely in egg dishes, with pasta or potatoes, on pizza, in tacos, and as an accompaniment to more bland dishes like rice or quinoa. It can also be made in a large batch for freezing. The batch in this recipe is big enough to serve 4 to 6 people for dinner. Or make a larger batch keeping the proportions the same and freeze for later. Asparagus pesto will keep in the freezer for up to a year.
I got the idea for this asparagus pesto from Angi Schneider’s new book, The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Vegetables: Canning, Pickling, Fermenting, Dehydrating and Freezing Your Favorite Fresh Produce. I’ve definitely put all kinds of garden fresh herbs into pesto, like dandelion pesto, bee balm pesto, garlic scape pesto, and of course, basil pesto. But this is the first time I’ve tried asparagus pesto.
This is one gourmet dish that’s garden to table in just a few minutes. Try it.
You’ll need about 8 to 10 stalks of garden fresh asparagus or a pound of store bought asparagus to serve 4 to 6 people. You can also use frozen asparagus if you have some in the freezer, so this is truly a dish you can make year round, but it really shines in the spring. If you double or triple the batch, you can freeze the extra in freezer safe containers. Angi suggests using 4 ounce canning jars, leaving a 1/2 inch head space for to allow for expansion.
How to prepare asparagus
Asparagus has a sweet spot. When you get it in the kitchen you’ll notice if you gently bend the stalk near the base that it bends without breaking cleanly. But if you move your way up the stalk, testing it by bending it, there’s a sweet spot where it makes a clean break. The part of the stalk between the base and the part that breaks is fibrous and needs special handling to make it palatable. Don’t toss it out though. I reserve these asparagus ends for cream of asparagus soup, collecting them in a one quart freezer bag until I have enough to fill my Instant Pot.
The tender part of the asparagus stalk is the part we’ll use for this recipe.
This recipe was inspired by a recipe found in The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Vegetables by Angi Schneider
- 1 pound of asparagus, prepared
- 1 head garlic
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Zest and juice of 1 organic lemon
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated
- Prepare asparagus by washing and snapping off the butt end. Set aside the tips for this recipe.
- Separate the garlic cloves from one head of garlic. Place in a small ramekin. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes or until garlic skins become translucent and skins split. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool briefly. Remove the skins from the roasted garlic. Place the soft garlic into the bowl of a food processor or a blender jar.
- Pour the olive oil into the bowl with the garlic.
- Meanwhile, in a cast iron frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat over medium heat till just sizzling . Cut or snap asparagus into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Toss in frying pan with hot oil. Stir fry just until the asparagus is cooked through, yet remains tender-crisp.
- Remove cooked asparagus and oil from frying pan. Add to food processor bowl or blender jar.
- Juice and zest one lemon. Add the juice and zest to the food processor bowl. Add herbs and salt. Process on medium speed until mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Add Romano cheese. Continue processing until mixture has a smooth consistency.
- Use immediately or preserve by freezing for later use.
Use this as a pizza topping. Spoon over eggs. Serve it over rice. Use it to top a baked potato. Serve it over noodles.
The mild flavor of asparagus lends itself to many different cuisines. Use your creativity to change the herbs and spices to please your own palette.
Keywords: Asparagus, pesto
Asparagus Pesto Pizza
Pizza night in our house is “leftover” night. I often take the leftovers and top a gluten free pizza crust, then sprinkle on whatever cheese I have on hand. Bake at 375 degrees F. until the cheese bubbles, and serve. In this case, I made a simple hamburger and mushroom pizza using ingredients I had on hand to cover a frozen, gluten free pizza crust. When the pizza came out of the oven and was still hot, I topped it with a generous serving of asparagus pesto, just before cutting it into 6 generous servings.
It was delicious and definitely something I’d do again.
The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Vegetables
When it comes to preserving the abundance of the garden its important to consider how you will use the final jars or freezer bags of preserved vegetables in the middle of winter. While a shelf of home canned dilly beans and tomatoes looks amazing in October, in the middle of February it can be less than inspiring. If you’ve been canning the same vegetables in the same way, year after year, it might be time for some fresh inspiration. Angi Schneider’s book is here to inspire you to think differently about the garden produce that’s coming into your kitchen right now. Tap into your creative genius and use this book to bring fresh food ideas to your food preservation pantry.
Putting food by doesn’t have to mean uninspiring vegetables in February and March. By changing the way you preserve your vegetables and adding a little creativity into your home preserved food you can ensure that every meal is a feast to the eyes and enjoyable even in the “dead of winter”.
My favorite part of The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Vegetables is the inspiring way Angi offers several ways to preserve each vegetable. For instance in the case of asparagus, asparagus pesto isn’t the only recipe offered to help you preserve this spring vegetable. 5 other asparagus recipes in this book include, dried asparagus chips, made using the leftover stem pieces that are too tough to cook as a vegetable. This preparation is good as a paleo snack food, or to sprinkle on a salad for extra crunch. Other asparagus recipes include canned asparagus soup, dilly asparagus, bacon wrapped frozen asparagus spears, and fermented garlicky asparagus. And that’s just the beginning.
Most of the other vegetables in The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Vegetables also include recipes and suggestions for canning, dehydrating, and freezing, as well as lacto-fermentation and pickling. It is a well rounded cookbook with an easy to navigate layout and enticing photos.
The second thing I love about Angi’s book is the way she takes vegetables and uses them in both sweet and savory dishes. Sweet potato fruit leather, carrot fruit leather, maple radish chips, plus, beet and orange marmalade are all fresh ways to preserve food by thinking outside the “box”.
The third thing I find inspiring about this book is the way that Angi takes the throw-away parts of the food preservation process and turns them into delicious edibles like asparagus stem soup, carrot top pesto, and radish top pesto. If you grow your own food, this book will ensure that your hard labor is fully rewarded, without the usual by-products that fill the compost pail.
If your garden harvest overwhelms your creativity, The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Vegetables will give you renewed energy to bring in the harvest and preserve it for winter. Or maybe just try one of these recipes in a new dish for dinner tonight and see how your family likes the change. Mr. Joybilee loved the asparagus pesto pizza. He said I could make it any time.
You can get your copy of this new food preservation cookbook by clicking on the pink button below.
Disclosure: I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher.