In a 5- to 6-quart pan, bring about 3 quarts water to a boil over high heat. Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Add asparagus to boiling water. Cook, uncovered, until just barely tender to bite, 4 to 5 minutes. With tongs, lift out asparagus and drain; cool slightly.
In a blender or food processor, combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, and basil. Return water in pan to a boil. Add fettuccine. Cook, uncovered, until barely tender to bite, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, diagonally trim off top 3 to 4 inches of asparagus spears. Place asparagus tips in a colander. Coarsely chop stems and add to blender along with 6 tablespoons hot water from pasta pan. Whirl until smooth.
Drain pasta into colander containing asparagus tips. Transfer tips and pasta to serving bowl. Pour asparagus purée over pasta and mix. Add salt, pepper, and cheese to taste.
Thank you to the person who took time to critique this recipe (above). It saved my dinner party. Everything you said is true. Maybe if you leave off the basil leaves, lemon juice, and fresh garlic, it might be a good recipe. Its hard to imagine anyone tested this recipe before posting it.
The flavors of this recipe just did not coalesce. I followed the recipe exactly too.
The texture of the pesto was simultaneously too watery and too fibrous (bundles of thready fibers from the asparagus spears, ugh), and although I'm a garlic lover, the raw garlic in the pesto overpowered the more delicate flavor of the asparagus. Basically, this dish was edible, but only just. We threw away the leftovers, which is an almost unheard-of occurrence in our household. My German grandma, whose motto was "Waste not, want not" was surely spinning in her grave.
With the price of asparagus what it is, I'd recommend avoiding this recipe. It's absolutely not worth the cost of the ingredients.
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