Lemon Asparagus Ribbons with Pesto

In the winter, I’m all about one-pot meals: soups, casseroles, stir-fries – I want it comforting, piping hot, and all mixed into one killer dish. As the sunshine returns, however, there’s something about smaller almost tapas-like meals that draw me in and captivate me. I love taking an appetizer and making it a meal, or collecting several “snacky” items into one, calorie-appropriate sitting. I feel lighter, less tied down. Maybe it’s my indecisiveness shining through, the fact that I’m antsy after a winter of hibernation. Whatever the reason, I find so much satisfaction in a dish that at first seems to be accusingly small, but winds up being just right.

This asparagus salad is like that. Sure, it would be wonderful beside chicken, tofu, a poached egg – but serve this on its own, and it’s just as magical. I couldn’t leave things well alone and added some leftover cucumber and green pepper, and it isn’t that these tasted bad, but ultimately I think what makes this dish so spectacular is its simplicity. Next time, I will definitely be leaving it as a purely asparagus salad. My lemon:pesto ratio was a little heavy on the lemon, so I would advise you to be cautious with your lemon and add more to taste in the end if necessary. Overall, though, this is light, citrusy, and absolutely perfect for the breezy, sunny day ahead of us. I don’t know what the weather is like around you, but last night was a thunderstorm here to end all thunderstorms - but sit down with a bowl of this asparagus salad and you’ll forget that rain clouds even exist. Seriously. It’s that refreshing.

Lemon Asparagus Ribbons with Pesto, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 3-4 servings

The Ingredients
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted and cooled
1 pound of asparagus
1 lemon, halved
olive oil, to taste
freshly ground pepper & coarse salt, to taste
1-2 ounces parmesan cheese*

The Method
Without trimming the asparagus, hold the asparagus by the tough end on a cutting board and use a vegetable peeler to create thin ribboms from stalk to tip. The tough ends left over can then be discarded, and pile the remaining ribbons onto a plate or bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over the asparagus ribbons, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Dollop with the pesto and toss to combine, then top with parmesan shavings and serve immediately.

*I omitted this because until I go through my horrendous canned parmesan and switch to the Real Deal, I can’t bear to expose such beautiful dishes as this one to Kraft’s over-processed imitation. I know they say 100% real cheese and all, but it just isn’t the same. I enjoyed it without the cheese, but could imagine it being a welcome addition, too.

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