So who doesn’t love a super flavorful and bright pesto pasta? I have to admit that when I started thinking of this dish, I fully intended to have the asparagus ribbons replace the noodles. Actually, I was even thinking of making the pesto out of asparagus instead of basil. Well, my love for fettuccini noodles is too strong so they all made it into the dish. The shiitake mushrooms add a nice meaty texture that goes great with the asparagus ribbons.
If you have never made pesto, you should definitely give it a shot as it takes just a few minutes to blend up. Pesto is more of a concept that is much broader than the traditional pesto with basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan and olive oil (which is what is in this recipe). You can use almost any ingredients on hand to make pesto. You can use any kind of nuts or greens. Parsley pestos are delicious, along with pesto made from carrot tops with walnuts. So many possibilities that can be paired with your dish. The pesto in this pasta dish is more of a traditional one, but feel free to mix it up.
How to make asparagus ribbons
Asparagus ribbons are thin slices of asparagus made by running a vegetable peeler along the length of the asparagus spear. First trim the end of the asparagus, then hold the cut end with one hand while running the vegetable peeler with the other hand. Once you get halfway through peeling, flip the asparagus over and finish on the other side. A Y-head vegetable peeler is best for this because it allows you to peel closest to the cutting board. You can also hold the asparagus on the back of a rolling pin to get closer with your peeler. Don’t worry if the heads of the asparagus fall off; you can just throw them into the pasta. 🙂
Pesto Pasta with Asparagus Ribbons and Mushrooms
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
- kosher salt to taste
- 1 cup basil
- 8 oz thick asparagus spears, ends trimmed
- olive oil
- 8 oz pasta noodles, such as fettuccini
- 4 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
- 1 small leek, sliced and cleaned
To make the pesto
Combine all pesto ingredients except the basil in a food processor or blender. Pulse until the garlic and pine nuts are smooth.
Add the basil and continue to pulse until a desired pesto consistency is reached. Don't over blend.
To make the pasta
Cook the pasta al dente.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they start to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add the sliced leek, plus a pinch of salt and more olive oil if the pan is dry. Continue to stir and sauté until the leek is soft, about 2 to 3 more minutes.
Make the asparagus ribbons while the mushrooms and leeks cook. Hold the cut end of the asparagus with one hand and run a vegetable peeler down the asparagus with the other on the counter, a rolling pin or over an upside down bowl. Flip the spear over once you reach the halfway point.
Add the asparagus ribbons, the pesto and the cooked noodles to the pan with the mushrooms and leeks to just warm through, then remove from heat.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil if desired.