This recipe makes about 3 cups of the thick, foamy walnut-orange pesto. Keep any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for several days. Use on other vegetables, or simply prepared chicken or fish.
Serves 8 to 10 people
2 pounds medium asparagus, thick ends snapped off
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano
Freshly ground pepper
Local asparagus is especially delicious in Spring: Learn how to buy the very best Asparagus.
Heat a large pasta pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Set a large ice bath nearby. Blanch the asparagus by adding it to the boiling water; cook until just softened, 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer the asparagus to the ice bath. When it has cooled; drain.
Meanwhile, for the pesto, juice one of the oranges, removing any seeds. You should have ½ cup; set the juice aside for later. Chop what is left of the juiced orange — pith, rind, interior fruit and all — along with the remaining orange (again removing any seeds); place the chopped oranges in a food processor. Add the walnuts, garlic, sugar, 1 cup of the olive oil and 1/4 cup of the pecorino; process until smooth.
Transfer the pesto to a bowl; season with the salt and pepper to taste. If it’s too thick, add up to ¼ cup of the reserved juice to loosen it up. (This pesto will last for 1 week in the fridge if the surface is covered with a layer of oil.) Makes about 3 cups.
To make the citronette, place ¼ cup of the remaining orange juice and the remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a small bowl; whisk to form a thin emulsion.
Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter; spoon some of the walnut-orange pesto over the stems. Drizzle the orange citronette over all. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons pecorino.