Spaghetti with Roasted Asparagus and Garlic Scapes Pesto
An Early Summer Vegetable Pasta
- Servings: Serves 6 to 8 as a side, 4 as a main course.
Garlic scapes first appear in the early summer at many grocers and greenmarkets. They're the flower shoots of the garlic plant that's cut off to help encourage the plant to grow. Farmers used to discard these long, tender, bean-like stalks but now we know that they have their own subtle and aromatic garlic flavor. What was once fodder for the compost pile is now an early summer treat.
If you want a more forward garlic flavor, don't roast the scapes. Instead put them raw into the food processor or blender first and pulse into a coarse puree. Then add the roasted asparagus and olive oil.
If the pesto is still too thick to easily coat your pasta, add a little of the hot pasta water instead of more olive oil. This will help emulsify the pesto without adding fat.
- 3 or 4 fresh garlic scapes cut into 6-inch pieces
- 1 pound fresh asparagus
- 3 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- A generous pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 pound dried spaghetti
- Optional: freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400º F.
- Thoroughly rinse the asparagus and garlic scapes and pat dry with paper towels.
- Trim the asparagus of any blemishes and cut off any tough, woody ends. After you're finished trimming the asparagus you should have about 12 oz. total.
- Trim the garlic scapes by cutting off the ends and any blemishes tips. Cut the scapes into pieces about 6-inches long.
- Spread the trimmed asparagus spears and the pieces of garlic scapes on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and red pepper flakes, using your hands to toss everything together so that the vegetables are lightly coated with the oil.
- Place in the hot oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until the asparagus and scapes are soft and tender. You can test by spearing with the tip of a sharp knife.
- Set aside and let cool for about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the cooked asparagus and garlic scapes, plus any oil left in the pan, to a food processor or blender. Pulse until they form a paste and with the machine running, slowly add the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil (add a little more if necessary to get a soft, pesto texture). Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it generously. Cook your spaghetti according to package directions until it is al dente.
- Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
- Transfer the spaghetti to a warmed serving bowl, toss with enough of the pesto to coat each strand, adding a little of the pasta water if necessary to make the pesto less thick and to help coat each strand of spaghetti.
- Serve immediately with the freshly grated Pecorino cheese passed separately at the table.