Asparagus Pesto Rice

Asparagus Pesto Rice

Looking at fresh local asparagus in the market again this past weekend, I reminded myself as I do every year not to take its availability for granted. Thus starts an annual but limited dash to eat this glorious vegetable on every possible occasion, usually with just a quick steaming and a sprinkling of lemon juice and sea salt to enjoy it in its simple perfection.

Roasted Asparagus

Nevertheless, a slightly more elaborate treatment always breaks up the routine, and if you're looking for an elegant addition to your early summer table this easy asparagus pesto risotto-style rice dish will make a splash with your guests while entirely reserving respect for the unique flavor of the vegetable. This recipe is adapted from a longtime favorite of mine, Delia Smith's pesto rice, just for the seasonal occasion and takes remarkably little time or effort. Do enjoy while you can.

Asparagus Pesto RiceAsparagus Pesto Rice
Recipe by
Cuisine: Italian
Published on June 14, 2009

A fresh and elegant early summer risotto flavored with an asparagus pesto

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  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil for brushing
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • small handful of fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup arborio or other risotto rice
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • fresh Parmesan cheese, pared into shavings with a knife or peeler
  • asparagus tips
  • Preheat an oven to 425°. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and arrange the spears on a baking sheet. Lightly brush the asparagus with olive oil, making sure to coat each side. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, turning the spears over once halfway through the roasting. Remove from the oven, trim off the tips, and set the tips and 4 or 5 of the stalks aside to cool. The remaining stalks can be set aside for other recipes or to enjoy on their own.

  • Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

  • Once the asparagus has cooled a little, heat the vegetable stock over low-medium heat in a medium saucepan, being careful not to bring to a boil. If it does start boiling, turn down the heat slightly and remove the pan from the burner for a few moments.

  • In the meantime, make the pesto by putting 4 or 5 of the asparagus stalks, the spinach, and half the toasted pine nuts in a food processor or blender. Add the garlic, olive oil and salt, and purée until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese.

  • Take a few spoonfuls of the pesto and stir into the rice to coat all the grains. When the vegetable stock is hot but not boiling, pour the coated rice into the saucepan and stir in the salt. Turn up the heat on the stove. As soon as the rice and stock begin to boil, cover with a lid and turn down the heat to low. Cook for exactly 20 minutes.

  • Once the rice is cooked, transfer it to a serving bowl. Add the remaining pesto, lemon juice, olive oil and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and combine by stirring gently.

  • If serving warm, scatter the asparagus tips, the remaining toasted pine nuts and the Parmesan shavings over the top and serve. If cold, add the garnishes just before serving.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Asparagus Pesto Rice


Jyoti said...

Awesome pictures ! Looks healthy and delicious.

Unknown said...

Love Asparagus. Excellent recipe and nice photographs.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I was immediately racking my brain to think if I have all of the ingredients available here at home for this amazing dish. This is going to be supper:D

Soma said...

This is something which i can have NOW!! i think i can eat asparagus in any form every single day. great idea.

Parita said...

Asparagus flavored presto rice looks delicious!!

test it comm said...

Asparagus makes for a great pesto!

Unknown said...

nice and healthy recipe looks so yum yum and beautiful pic.

Vidya said...

Neat! my little one loves homemade pesto and asparagus.. never thought of putting them both in one dish. I have asparagus sitting in my fridge right now so I'll be making this dish in the next couple of days. Thanks a bunch for sharing.

Pooja said...

Wow what a healthy dish! Never thought of the combo before! And asparagus in pesto..amazing!

Cilantro said...

Definitely a new recipe for me. Would love to try it.

eatme_delicious said...

Mmm this looks like a perfect dish for me! I'm off to search for asparagus today for another recipe!

Ivy said...

Thanks for passing from my blog even if I haven't been around lately. Can you imagine that asparagus rarely reach our farmers' markets as most of the production is exported. I love the idea of the asparagus paired with rice and pesto.

Uma said...

Wow, what a great looking rice! Asparagus pesto rice looks so mouth-watering. I have made chutney with asparagus, but never paired it with rice.

Nithya Praveen said...

Lovely pictures...looks healthy and delicious!

test it comm said...

A perfect Spring risotto! I like all of the green in the dish!

Ilva said...

Thanks Lisa, this is a great entry for this month's HotM!

Anonymous said...

I made this tonight and it was really delicious. I will use less salt next time; my veggie broth had salt and that made for too much salt overall. The recipe never says what to do with the spinach but I assumed it was supposed to go in the processor with the rest of the pesto ingredients.

Murasaki Shikibu said...

I love this. Asparagus is in season so I'll be making this soon. :)

Italienische Spezialitäten said...

Jsut one word: fantastico

Spice Rack said...

Thanks for the recipe, the meal looks so healthy. From the title itself, it is a healthy treat. It has Herbs and spices found in your spice rack that made it so tasty and healthy. :)

Italienische Feinkost said...

mmh... that looks so delicious, I definitely have to try this Pesto Rice! Thank's for the recipe!