Cook's Hideout: Penne with Asparagus & Pistachio Pesto

April 16, 2013

Penne with Asparagus & Pistachio Pesto

Blogging Marathon# 27: Week 3/ Day 1
Theme: Seasonal Dishes - Spring Entree
Dish: Penne with Asparagus and Pistachio Pesto
Growing up in South India, the only seasons I knew were Summer and Rainy. There was winter, but it wasn't 'really' winter by any standards. There was no seasonal cooking and I don't think I even heard of such a thing while in India.
Living on the east coast of US for the past 12+ years, we enjoy (or not) all 4 seasons. My favorites being Spring and Fall. I especially like Spring and love seeing the little buds on the trees, the greenery and the nature waking up from long harsh winter. Spring makes me really happy, I guess it's because I start to feel life around and it just gives me pure joy.
Penne with Asparagus & Pistachio Pesto

We start our 3rd week of our month long blogging marathon and the theme for next 8 days is "Seasonal dishes". I'm planning to showcase dishes for all the 4 seasons we experience in our neck of woods. These dishes either use seasonal ingredients or are made during that season for various reasons.
I'm going to start with "Spring" because it's my favorite and also because it IS finally Spring here. Here are some pictures from around my house. Don't these look colorful and so beautiful!!
Spring is in the air
Today's dish uses tender asparagus that are at their freshest best in Spring. This recipe is from Rachael Ray's Show. This is a great pasta dish that is perfect for this time of the year and the pistachio pesto is oh-so tasty.
Cilantro-Pistachio Pesto
Cilantro & Fresh Asparagus -- Oh the joys of Spring
Cilantro-Pistachio Pesto
For Pistachio Pesto:
Pistachios - ½cup
Cilantro - 1cup (lightly packed)
Spinach - 1cup cooked (I used frozen spianch that was thawed)
Vegetable Stock - ½cup
Extra virgin Olive oil - ¼cup
Lemon Juice - 1tbsp
Salt and Pepper - to taste

For Pasta:
Penne - 8 oz. (any short cut pasta will work)
Asparagus - 1 bunch, cut into long pieces
Green peas - 1 cup
Onion - 1small, finely chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
All purpose flour - 2tbsp
Vegetable stock - 1cup
Parmesan cheese - for serving (optional)
Salt and Pepper - to taste
Penne with Asparagus & Pistachio Pesto

  • Make the Pesto: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend to make pesto of desired consistency.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the chopped asparagus and cook for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl and run very cold water over it to stop cooking.
  • Next add pasta to the same water and cook as per package directions. Add peas to water about 2 minutes before the pasta is done cooking. Reserve 1cup of cooking liquid. 
  • In a saucepan, melt 2tbsp butter and 1tbsp olive oil; add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook until garlic is fragrant and onion is translucent. Sprinkle the flour and whisk to make a roux, making sure that there are no lumps.
  • When the flour turns a light brown color, add the stock and whisk to form a gravy. Cook until the mixture thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper
  • Turn off the heat and add the pesto along with asparagus, green peas and pasta. Add the reserved cooking water, mix well. Check seasonings and adjust accordingly.
Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with grated parmesan cheese if desired.
Penne with Asparagus & Pistachio Pesto
Lets check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked today for BM# 27.


  1. I am not a big fan of aspsragus but this looks so yummy ...i think pureed form of any veggie you dont like is the best way to eat...lovely green color andi dont think i need to say this but beautiful clicks..:)

  2. Hey Pavani, Spring is not yet 'visible' in our neck of the woods. But I can enjoy the penne pasta any day :)

  3. Such a delightful pesto. And I love spring and fall too :)

  4. Wow beautiful pictures Pavani, I have not tasted asparagus, so cant' decide how it might taste..however it surely makes the dish look very pretty!

  5. Omg, this pesto sounds absolutely wonderful, never had a chance to make pesto with asparagus, Penne tempts me alot.

  6. Wow.. what a lovely green color comes in pasta.. so yummy

  7. This looks great. nice pics too.

  8. Experiencing all 4 seasons itself is a great thing! Looking forward to your recipes :)

  9. So you are enjoying Spring with delicious asparagus. Love teh pesto glad I do not have to use just basil to make it as my hubby does not like basil. Thanks.

  10. spring or fall, i am game for penne pasta with pesto any day and this one looks simply superb

  11. Its so delicious in look..but never tasted this...

  12. very new to me. Looks lovely!!

  13. I was waiting for my basil to come up during summer and didn't realize that I could go with cilantro. Looks like a perfect spring dish.
    Your spring already started! We were still under 40s last week and at last now spring seems to be here for us.


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