ROASTED ASPARAGUS PESTO

Makes about 2 cups

1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts (skins can be left on)
1/2 cup hazelnut oil (extra virgin olive oil can be substituted for half or all of the amount)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt or kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the tablespoon of olive oil. Roast in a 400º F oven until the asparagus begins to blister, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the garlic, cheese and hazelnuts. Add the roasted asparagus and pulse again, until just combined. With the motor running, slowly add the hazelnut oil. Once combined, the mixture should resemble a thick paste. If the mixture is too thick, thin it with more hazelnut or olive oil. Stir in the lemon juice and the salt and pepper, to taste. Serve as a sauce for pasta, polenta or eggs, or use in the Pesto Chicken Roulades recipe on page 25.

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