With only a few short weeks until the official start of spring, I’m already seeing asparagus begin to pile up in my local markets. Which means this is the time of year when I overload on asparagus and make my favourite spring dishes. One bite of this spring pesto pasta with asparagus, and you too will be transported to warmer days.
There’s something about pairing pesto with pasta that makes an otherwise heavy dish feel light. I added a little mozzarella cheese to help bind the dish together (if you throw it in while the pasta is still warm, it melts beautifully!). Honestly, this just tastes like spring exploded in my mouth. And a dish that only takes 20 minutes, including prep time, to that explosion is my kind of meal!
If you don’t like asparagus, no worries! Just sub in fresh english peas or sautéed ramps if you can find them. I love making my own basil pesto, but if you have a brand you know and love, use that. Plus, it will cut the prep time down too! You could also make a pesto with highly coveted garlic scapes, which are only in season during the early spring.
Perhaps the best part of this dish is that it’s just as good served warm in the winter or spring as it is served cold or room temperature as a pasta salad in the summer. Either way, this may definitely become your new favourite vegetarian pasta!
Spring pesto pasta with asparagus and chives is comfort food with a much lighter feel! Serve this hot as a dinner entree or cold as a pasta salad.
- 1/2 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 lb. pasta (I used farfalle)
- 1/2 cup basil pesto (store-bought or homemade)
- 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
- zest from 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add asparagus. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of ice water. Let cool, then drain.
- Bring the same pot of water back up to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 11 minutes, or until al dente, then drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of cooking water.
- In a large bowl, combine pasta, asparagus, and basil pesto. Toss until pasta is evenly coated with pesto. If the sauce is too thick, begin pouring in reserved pasta water (about 2 tablespoons at a time) until sauce reaches desired consistency. Add chives, lemon zest, and mozzarella, and stir just to combine.
- Divide pasta into bowls and top with Parmesan cheese. If eating immediately, serve hot. You can also serve it cold or at room temperature as this also makes a fantastic vegetarian pasta salad!