Spring has truly sprung with early summer offerings already available at many bay area farmer's markets. From asparagus to zucchini I just can't seem to get enough inside my belly before it disappears. I was at the Marin main farmer's market last Sunday only to discover my favorite asparagus farm Zuckerman's had already ended it's season. This was right after I had discovered this recipe, therefore I have been sourcing asparagus anywhere I can to make this recipe over and over until I'm sick of it. I bet it would freeze well, note to self to do such a batch. I adapted this recipe out of Sunset magazine's May issue. It's by chef Michael Chiarello who just opened a new restaurant in San Francisco called Coqueta. His recipe was for a Insalata Piadine, an Italian specialty of a "crisp warm dough with a highly flavored sauce and a cool salad". It was delicious, but this version was a bit easier to tackle on a Tuesday night for my family. Essentially, I made mine with whole wheat gemini pasta (corkscrews), where his was served over something resembling a pizza crust. I recommend trying both versions.
Here is what you will need:
2 heads garlic
About 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
About 1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
About 2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
3 cups loosely packed arugula
1 chilled firm lemon, sliced very thin and seeds removed
3/4 oz. pecorino cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (to yield about 1/4 cup)
3/4 lb. asparagus, about 1/2 inch thickness
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons minced green garlic (or garlic)
2 pinches coarse sea salt
About 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
12 oz whole wheat gemini pasta
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut tops off of garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in foil and roast in oven for 1 hour. Let cool, then squeeze cloves out from skins.
with kosher salt. Boil asparagus about 3 minutes, or until tender; remove and spread out to cool.
Cut asparagus into thirds and save tips for salad. In a food processor, pulse together asparagus stalks, pine nuts, basil, sea salt, and pepper to taste. With machine running, drizzle in olive oil. Add parmesan in batches, pulsing after each batch (pesto should be thick). If cheese begins to clump, add water, 1 tsp. at a time, until it loosens. Cover with plastic wrap, smoothing it against surface of pesto while removing all air pockets.
Finish salad: In a small bowl, whisk 2 1/2 tbsp. oil, vinegar, 1/4 tsp. sea salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper; set aside. Put asparagus tips, arugula, roasted garlic gloves and lemons in a large bowl.
Cook pasta according to al-dente directions. Drain and mix in pesto. Top with salad tossed with dressing and pecorino slices.
Serves 4 - 6
When I was a kid I didn't like many vegetables, especially the green ones. From avocados, to artichokes, brussels sprouts and zucchini, they all had this stigma attached to them. My how times have changed, but it seems my children may have picked up these same traits. I don't judge them, just thoughtfully offer them what I think is delicious. Someday I hope they will feel the same.