spaghetti with asparagus pesto and smoked chicken


2 bunches asparagus, woody ends trimmed
125g ( ½ cup) low-fat ricotta
45g unsalted raw cashews, lightly toasted
50g baby spinach leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
½ cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to season
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
300g dried spaghetti pasta
175g smoked chicken breast, skin removed, shredded

Cook the asparagus in a large saucepan of boiling water for 1-2 minutes or until bright green and tender crisp. Rinse under cold running water. Drain. Cut half the asparagus into 3cm pieces and reserve.
Process the remaining asparagus, ricotta, cashews, spinach, garlic, lemon rind and half the basil in a food processor until smooth. Season with pepper and stir in half the lemon juice.

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan. Add the asparagus pesto, chicken, reserved asparagus, remaining lemon juice and remaining basil to the pasta. Season with pepper. Toss until well combined. Divide among serving bowls.
With a twist: Make spaghetti with salmon and asparagus pesto – swap the cashews for blanched almonds and the shredded chicken for torn slices of smoked salmon.