The pesto is found in On Top of Spaghetti which is one of my most favorite books for pasta. You simply roast one pound of trimmed asparagus spears at high heat, like 500 degree F, for a few minutes until tender. Roasting time will depend on the size of the spears. Just toss the spears with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper before roasting. Once the roasted asparagus has cooled a bit, roughly chop it and use a spatula to transfer the asparagus pieces and any oil from the pan to a blender. Add two-thirds cup of extra virgin olive oil, and I know that sounds like a lot, and puree until completely smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed. That’s the asparagus pesto. It can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Just bring it to room temperature or heat it in a saucepan over low heat before adding to cooked pasta. For the pasta, I followed another favorite recipe which is found in Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition. Two cups of flour are mixed with two whole eggs plus four egg yolks and a teaspoon of salt. I mix the dough in a bowl, and then knead by hand for a few minutes before wrapping the dough in plastic and letting it rest for 30 minutes. This time, I also added chopped herbs from my garden which flecked the dough with green. Speaking of color, my pasta dough was especially yellow this time thanks to gorgeous eggs from Milagro Farm. The yolks were beautifully orange. I divide the pasta dough into four pieces for rolling through the machine, and I cut the rolled sheets into thin spaghetti for this dish. I left the pasta to dry at room temperature for half an hour, and then covered it to store in the refrigerator until I was ready to cook. A big pot of salted water was brought to a boil, the fresh pasta was cooked for two minutes or so, and some pasta water was saved before draining. Since I was enjoying our local asparagus so much this year, I bought extra and quickly cooked some chopped pieces to add to the pasta as it was tossed with pesto. I added a little pasta water to thin the pesto slightly. In On Top of Spaghetti, Pecorino is suggested for serving with this dish, but I always use Parmigiano Reggiano instead.
I have a lot of favorites when it comes to food, but this is in that special category of favorites. Getting to make this pesto with locally grown asparagus and the fresh pasta with incredible, local eggs and home-grown herbs made it better than ever. It’s a continuing pleasure to watch our local food scene grow and to discover new things each time I visit our markets.
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