Asparagus with walnut-orange pesto and citronette
Serves 8 to 10 as a side dish
Recipe courtesy of "Molto Batali" (Ecco, 2011).
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 ground Pecorino- Romano
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil in a large pasta pot. Set a large ice bath nearby.
When the water comes to a boil, add 2 tablespoons salt. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until just softened, 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer the asparagus to the ice bath. When it has cooled, drain and set aside.
Make the pesto: Juice one of the oranges, removing any seeds, and 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), and place the chopped orange in the bowl of a food processor. Add the walnuts, garlic, sugar, 1 cup of the olive oil and 1/4 cup of the pecorino to the processor, and blend until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and season it with salt and pepper to taste. If it's too thick, add up to 1/4 cup of the reserved juice to loosen it up.
To make the citronette, place the reserved orange juice and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small bowl and whisk to make an emulsion.
Arrange the cooked asparagus on a serving platter, and spoon the walnut-orange pesto over the stems. Drizzle the orange citronette over all. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons pecorino, and serve.