Barely Steamed Asparagus with Basil Vinaigrette
1 pound asparagus
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
6 T your favorite no-sugar vinaigrette dressing
2 T basil puree
Start water boiling in your stovetop steamer or electric steamer.Trim off the woody ends of the asparagus, and then lightly peel the lower part of each stalk with a vegetable peeler. This allows you to use more of the asparagus than if you just break off the pieces, and it helps the stems cook as quickly as the asparagus tips. (You may still have to trim off a few inches if the ends are very woody.)After peeling, cut each spear into pieces about 2 inches long, cutting on the diagonal.Steam asparagus until barely tender, being careful not to overcook. (I would start checking about 5 minutes after the steam starts; you may prefer a minute or two longer, depending on how crisp you like it.)While asparagus steams, first combine fresh basil leaves and olive oil in food processor and process until basil is in very small pieces and fairly well integrated into olive oil.Remove puree, scraping sides of food processor. Then measure 6 T vinaigrette dressing and 2 T basil puree into food processor and pulse about one minute. (This can also be combined in a jar and shaken.)To serve, drain asparagus well and arrange on plate.Season with salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste, and drizzle Basil Vinaigrette over. Enjoy!