Spaghettini with Asparagus Pesto

If you have asparagus pesto on hand you always have a quick dinner. This pasta dish is elegant, beautiful as a first course or a light dinner. For an extra savory dish, cook the pasta in chicken broth. You can also jazz up the garnishes: try sautéed shrimp, a dollop of homemade ricotta, or chopped fresh chives, or a combination.

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Asparagus Stock

I make asparagus stock with the trimmed off ends of asparagus spears. You can hold the stock in the fridge, but it tends to ferment in a few days; so it is best to freeze or pressure can it. There is no USDA data for asparagus stock. I have based my pressure canning time on the recommendation for whole raw asparagus tightly packed into a pint jar. This is the same timing as the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving uses for pints of vegetable stock.

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Shaved Asparagus, Pea, and Pea Shoot Salad

I have served this surprisingly rich salad as a second course after a pasta dish, on top of a piece of broiled fish, and garnished with croutons: they’re all good! When choosing pea shoots, look for small pale leaves with plenty of thin, curling tendrils. Avoid large stemmy pea shoots, which are tougher. But if you do find them in the market with very long stems you can cut the stems off and throw them in the stockpot. Save the asparagus ends or peels for asparagus stock.

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