Asparagus is in season this month! If you’re looking for something to do with those lovely spears of new season British asparagus, team them with foraged wild garlic for a light, fragrant spring pasta dish (foraging for wild garlic gives you the perfect excuse to bask in the best of Spring weather, if you needed one). This recipe for Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Wild Garlic Pesto is from the fantastic Veggienomics.
‘Homemade pesto takes a matter of minutes and is fresher and cheaper than shop-bought, especially with foraged ingredients. Pesto can be so much more than the classic Ligurian basil version, and adapted to suit seasonal ingredients. Wild garlic leaves have just enough garlicky flavour without being too overpowering, and if you do manage to discover a sizeable patch, make a double batch of pesto and freeze it. Pine nuts can vary in quality, so try almonds, cashews, walnuts or Brazils, for a sweet, nutty creaminess.
Wild garlic makes an excellent alternative to garlic or chives in dishes, and is best left raw or lightly cooked. You can find wild garlic (you’ll probably be able to smell it before you see it) with its broad, spear-like leaves in woody areas, hedge banks or wayside. The plant also has delicate white flowers on top of a thin stem – both leaves and flowers are edible’
Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Wild Garlic Pesto
Preparation time:10 minutes
Cooking time:15 minutes
400g/14oz dried tagliatelle
150g/5½oz asparagus tips, trimmed
Wild Garlic Pesto
2 large handfuls of wild garlic leaves, flowers (if any) reserved (or use chive flowers)
1 handful of blanched almonds
100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup mild-flavoured extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for topping
1 handful of finely grated vegetarian Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta following the pack instructions. Add the asparagus about 3 minutes before the pasta is ready. Drain, reserving 4 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water, and return the cooked pasta and asparagus to the pan.
2. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Put the wild garlic leaves and almonds in a mini food processor (or use a stick blender and a beaker) and process until finely chopped. Continue to blend, adding the oil in two batches, and the Parmesan, then season with salt and pepper. Spoon the pesto into a bowl or jar and drizzle some extra olive oil over the top. (It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.)
3. Add as much pesto and reserved cooking water as needed to coat the pasta and asparagus, then turn the pasta until it is evenly coated. Taste and add extra salt and pepper, if needed. Serve sprinkled with more Parmesan and wild garlic flowers, if you have them.
Though it may not look it, asparagus is actually wonderfully good for you. We’ve put together this post on the Amazing Health Benefits of Asparagus to convince you to make the most of it being in season!
Veggienomics by Nicola Graimes is available from June 1st, but available for pre-order today!