Two seasonal veggies star in this fresh pesto, that doesn’t need cheese or nuts to be rich and flavorful. Eating clean and simple is important to all of us during the heart of the racing season. This is the perfect dish to satisfy that need, packed with vitamins and minerals it’s ideal for both fuel and recovery.
2 pounds asparagus (about 2 bunches)
10 ounces fresh spinach
½ cup packed fresh basil
½ sweet yellow onion, diced
1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
¾ cup dry white wine (Chardonnay)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ cups dry quinoa*
*Any type of pasta, couscous, farro, etc. may replace quinoa in this recipe
1. To cook the quinoa, bring the quinoa, 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to boil in a small pot. Reduce heat and let simmer until the water has absorbed, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large, deep sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
3. Cut the tips off the asparagus and reserve. Discard the white bottoms of the stalks. Cut the green part of the stalk into one-inch segments. Reserve about half of the stalks (one bunch worth) with the tips.
4. Add the other half of the asparagus stalks and the wine to the sauté pan. Let simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach and let cook down for about 2 minutes, until wilted.
5. Pour this mixture into a blender with the basil and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper.
6. Place the pan back on the heat and sauté the reserved asparagus tips and stalks, in the drippings left in the pan, for about 3-4 minutes.
7. Pulse the mixture in the blender very slowly a few times, as it is hot and the steam needs to be released or it will explode out of the blender. Once the steam is released, use the “liquefy” button to completely combine the mixture.
8. Toss the pesto and sautéed asparagus with the quinoa, or other grain and serve warm or chilled.
Jessica Cerra is the owner of Fit Food by Jess, a private chef and catering company in Encinitas, Calif. She is also a professional Xterra triathlete and mountain biker. Follow Jess’ recipes at Fitfoodbyjess.com or on her “Fit Food by Jess” Facebook page.
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