A Smooth Sauce from a Couple of Tough Veggies
- 1 cup asparagus stubs
- Four 5-inch-long pieces of leek green, top and outer layers
- 4 or 5 scallion greens, top and outer leaves (fresh trimmings only)
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
- 2 to 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
- 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 3 tablespoons (packed) coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
- Boiling pasta cooking water
- Rinse the asparagus stubs and the leek and scallion tops well.
- Cut off any wilted or bruised parts.
- Rap each asparagus stub with a heavy knife handle or a small skillet to crush it a bit and open the inner layers.
- If a good whack doesnt mash it, throw that one away!
- Put the stubs, greens, garlic, and onion in a 2-quart saucepan and pour in 2 cups of water.
- There should be plenty to cover the vegetables; add more if necessary.
- Add the oil, salt, and peppercorns and bring the water to a boil.
- Cover the pot, adjust the heat to maintain a low bubbling boil, and cook for an hour.
- Lower the heat if the waters evaporating too fastthe vegetables should cook in water the whole time.
- Uncover after an hour, and boil off the water almost completely.
- Before theres absolutely none left, turn down the heat and stir as the last visible moisture evaporates, but dont let the soft vegetables stick to the pot or burn.
- Turn all the vegetables into the food processor and puree them thoroughly, scraping down the sides as necessary.
- If there are vegetable fibers that havent broken down that mar the texture of the sauce (there may not be any), strain through a sieve.
- Return the sauce to the processor bowl, drop in the parsley and basil, and puree again.
- Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Reheat before using; thin with boiling pasta water to a consistency you like.
- Store for several days in the refrigerator, or freeze for several months in airtight containers.
- Dressing and filling ravioli
- A base to a vegetable risotto
- A sauce for poached zucchini or asparagus