4 portions. Maximum cost: £13.05 for all ingredients (you will be left with Parmesan and pine nuts), 

Skill level: Easy,

Total cooking time: 30 minutes. 

  • Prep time: 15 minutes, 
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes, 

Equipment used: Pestle & mortar or a food processor,  1 frying pan, 1 large saucepan, 1 baking tray, 1 mixing bowl, 

Original pesto recipe: Jamie Oliver’s Classic basil pesto

Original pasta recipe: Waitrose Asparagus, pine nut and pesto pasta


Inspired by a Waitrose recipe card, I’ve opted to make my own pesto rather than use a ready made version, however if you are feeling a little lazy (and I’m not one to judge), try to buy fresh pesto rather than jarred – there is a world of difference between them. 

The toasted pine nuts are the star of the show here, make sure to get some good colour on them. Likewise, grill the asparagus under a really hot grill to get those charred edges and smokey taste.


To prepare your pesto:

(Original recipe in bold font)

  • Peel and chop the garlic 
  • Pick and roughly chop the basil leaves, discard the stalks 
  • Finely grate the Parmesan cheese
  • Put a frying pan on a medium heat and add the pine nuts. Keep an eye on them and toss frequently until just starting to turn golden and smelling fantastic
  • Pound the garlic with a little pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar – you may need to add the basil leaves in batches if your mortar isn’t big enough 
  • Add the toasted pine nuts to the mixture and pound again 
  • Tip into a bowl and add half the grated Parmesan
  • Stir gently and add a little extra virgin olive oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency 
  • Have a taste and season with salt and pepper, then add most of the remaining cheese 
  • Add a little more oil and taste again



Asparagus and pesto linguineTo cook the asparagus pesto pasta:

Blanch the trimmed asparagus in boiling water for 3 minutes then drain and run under cold water to cool. Pat dry.

Dry fry the pine nuts in a small, heavy-based frying pan for 2 minutes until golden.

Preheat the grill to medium high. Mix half the pesto with the olive oil in a shallow dish then add the asparagus and toss together to coat. Arrange the coated asparagus in the grill pan. Grill for 4-5 minutes, turning, until tender and lightly charred on all sides.

Meanwhile, cook the linguine in a large pan of boiling water for 3-4 minutes until just tender. Drain thoroughly and toss with the remaining pesto.

Cut the grilled asparagus into 4cm lengths then toss with the pasta, pine nuts, grated lemon zest and juice.

Serve with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano, if you wish.



All prices from Sainsbury’s, May 2017, unless otherwise stated


  • 1/2 a clove of garlic (50p for a bulb)
  • 3 big handfuls of fresh basil (£1.25 for a fresh living pot, all can be used here, or the majority if you need a few leaves of basil for another dish)
  • a big  handful of Parmesan cheese (£2.70)
  • a small handful of pine nuts (£2.80 for 100g)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • optional: a small squeeze of lemon juice (30p)



  • 200g asparagus tips (£4) – The original recipe states to use double this amount which I personally think is overkill)
  • 150g pesto
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g fresh linguine (£1.50)
  • Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon (30p – use the remaining half from the pesto)
  • Parmesan shavings 
  • Smaller basil leaves for topping