You can get asparagus imported all year round in most supermarkets, but British asparagus has its growth season between May and July, with early appearance often at the end of April. Now is the perfect time to make use to these green spears in your everyday cooking. My choice for this recipe was to roast them and put them in a green pesto, along with fresh basil and parsley, walnuts and vegan cheese. The result is an incredibly flavourful pesto that you can serve with a variety of dishes.
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This pesto is, of course, great with pasta, but try it with these baby potatoes and broad beans, which give the whole dish a very distinctive British feel and taste. The potatoes are first boiled until tender, then fried in a little oil in a wok to give them a crispy skin. You can also repurpose the potato water to cook the broad beans (I’ve used frozen beans for this recipe, which cook nicely in 4-5 minutes), so make sure to remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon to keep the hot water in the pan.
The pesto, once made, will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge and you’ll be able to get 2 family meals out of the jar. You can also portion and freeze it if you need to hang onto it for a bit longer, or if there are just one or two of you. Small zip bags that you can reuse are fine for this purpose.
Roasted Asparagus, Basil and Walnut Pesto Served with Baby Potatoes and Broad Beans
For the Pesto:
- 350 g asparagus spears woody stem removed on the more mature asparagus
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 100 g walnuts
- 50 ml olive oil
- 30 g fresh basil
- 30 g fresh parsley
- 125 ml olive oil
- 125 ml vegetable oil
- A generous pinch of salt about ½ tsp
- A good grind of black pepper
- 50 g vegan parmesan cheese you can use vegan cheddar if you can’t get hold of the parmesan
For the Potatoes:
- 1 ½ kg baby or new potatoes washed and skins left on
- 500 g frozen broad beans
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to gas 7/220C/425F.
- Put the asparagus spears, the garlic and the walnuts on a roasting tray and drizzle over the 50ml of olive oil. Mix with your hands and then roast in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until they are browned but not burnt. Give them a good mix around halfway through cooking.
- While they are cooking, you can boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, until they are tender. Drain with a slotted spoon and set aside, so that you can reuse the water for boil the beans. Tip in the frozen beans and cook those for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside in a different bowl.
- After the asparagus, garlic and walnuts are cooked, remove them from the oven and allow to cool (about 30 minutes).
- Put the roasted ingredients in a food processor, along with the basil and parsley, and process until fully chopped. Now pour in both oils, the salt and pepper and the vegan cheese and process again until reasonable smooth. Set aside until it is ready to use.
- To fry the potatoes, heat the 3tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan or wok. Fry the potatoes on a medium-high heat, until they are browned all over. Add the beans and fry for another few minutes, then season to taste with the salt and pepper. Spoon in half of the pesto (store the rest of the pesto in a jar for another dish – see notes above), stir through and cook for another couple of minutes, then serve immediately.
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