Asparagus Pesto

This is only a pesto because it has nuts in it. Instead of basil leaves we use asparagus. You can also use broccoli. Good thing about this recipe is that you get to use all of the asparagus, including the end that you usually snap off and throw away or save for a vegetable broth. Based on Mark Bittman’s minimalist recipe.


  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments. Could also be all parts of a broccoli
  • 1 clove garlic, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, preferably toasted slightly
  • ¼ cup olive oil, or more as desired
  • Optional: ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt if not using parmesan
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Even better if it has a steamer.
  2. Add the asparagus and cook until fully tender but not mushy, 8 to 10 minutes. Steam the soft parts if the pot has a steamer.
  3. Drain well, reserving some of the cooking liquid, and let the asparagus cool slightly.
  4. (You can save all the cooking liquid as a vegetable broth!)
  5. Transfer the asparagus to a food processor and add the garlic, pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of the oil, Parmesan if using, salt if using, and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid if too dry.
  6. Process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and gradually add the remaining oil and a bit more of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten if necessary.
  7. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste, pulse one last time, and serve over pasta, fish or chicken (or cover and refrigerate for up to a day).

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