The misconception about pesto is that it's made from just basil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. However, you can create your own using just about anything. As long as you keep the olive oil, pine nuts (or walnuts/pecans) and parmesan handy, adding whatever sounds good to the mix can be lots of fun and create all sorts of "add-on's" to any dish.
You can also refrigerate any leftovers and/or freeze for a quick meal later.
16 oz of fettucine
1 bunch of asparagus
1 12oz can of artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup toasted pecans, walnuts or pine nuts
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
Cook pasta according to package instructions.
Bring a large pot of salted water (use plain Morton's table salt, about 2 tbs to 8qts water) to a rapid boil. Meanwhile, trim the bottoms of the asparagus. Once water is at a boil, add asparagus and boil for 3 minutes. (This is called par-boiling or blanching.) While boiling, grab a colander and fill halfway with ice. Remove asapargus with tongs and put in colander, spray with cold water and tossing with ice. (This stops the cooking.) Chop and set aside and reserve about 1/2 water of your cooking liquid.
In a food processor, add the chopped asparagus, artichoke, walnuts, cheese and garlic. Pulse while adding olive oil to create a "grainy" consistancy. Season with salt and pepper.
Add to your now cooked pasta, adding a little of the reserve "asparagus water" to wet the pesto so that the noodles are thoroughly coated. Add more if you'd like. Serve with extra parmasan cheese and parsley.
(Side note: what pesto you save, you can fix this dish again by using Orrechiette pasta (looks like mini scoops), grilled chicken, chopped tomatoes and frozen, steamed broccoli.)