Sunday, May 3, 2015

R is for: Ramp Pesto

OK... I'm SO freaking excited about this post. For a number of reasons.

1.) This pesto is bomb. No really. It's pretty phenomenal. You should totally make it. (And soon. Ramp season doesn't last very long).

2.) I'm starting to get the hang of my new camera, which is really fun and exciting. (In a totally nerdy photography way, though I still have a ways to go.)

3.) I just downloaded Lightroom CC for editing (thanks Cuz Erin), and I can't even tell you the difference it's made, and I haven't even scratched the surface. (More nerdy photography stuff... so I won't bore you).

4.) And... this has nothing to do with ramp pesto, but I leave for South Africa in THREE DAYS. (I should totally be packing, but instead I'm blogging).

So I know many of you are wondering: "What is a ramp?" Wellllll since you asked... a ramp is technically a "wild leek," so it's definitely in the onion family. And they kind of resemble green onions (or scallions) a little bit, especially with the bulb and root. They also have a bit of a garlicky flavor (and smell) to them. I decided they would be awesome in a pesto. The ramp season is pretty short, though I happened to spot some at Whole Foods while I was there. I loaded up the last of what they had and then did another spin through produce before checking out and to my delight they had been restocked. Score! (It's a food blogger thing).  A Farmer's Market would be another place to check.

(Warning... this was me trying to get all artsy with ramps). I liked the idea of pesto because you can use the leafy green portions, as well as the bulbs. Having not ever worked with them before, I did a little research and learned that several people recommend blanching the leaves to help keep the bright green color and also to tone down the flavor a bit. To do this, simply put them in salted, boiling water for about 10 seconds and then plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and squeeze out as much of the water as possible.

As for the bulbs... they smell verrrrry pungent and garlicky, so I decided to use only about half of them in the pesto and use the rest for a frittata I was making the next day. I also used some leftover pepitas (pumpkin seeds) from the Mexican quinoa I made earlier in the week. (But feel free to use pine nuts or walnuts, as both would be good in this).

Put half the ramp bulbs, pepitas, some lemon juice and grated Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor with the steel blade attached and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Add the drained/blanched leaves and process, while slowly drizzling in olive oil. From here, taste and decide if you need more of the bulbs and/or more salt or lemon juice. (The cheese is salty, and my pepitas were salted as well). Adjust seasonings and season to taste with more salt and pepper, if needed.

*Note: if not using it all at once, don't forget my easy tip for freezing! Click here for the how-to.

This pesto would be great on spaghetti noodles, but I went for a super simple preparation and toasted up some baguette slices, spread with a local ricotta cheese and top with the pesto. I used my upstairs neighbors as guinea pigs and they wholeheartedly approved! So if you happen to find yourself in the presence of ramps this week, grab some and make this pesto! You won't regret it!

Ramp Pesto

by Jaymee Sire
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Keywords: blender condiment ramp pesto pepita spring

Ingredients (2 cups)
  • 8 ounces ramps (greens & bulbs)
  • 1/3 cup pepitas or other nuts (such as pine nuts or walnuts)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  1. Bring a large, salted pot of water to boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
  2. While water is heating, clean the ramps. Slice off root end and separate green leaves from the bulbs. When water is boiling, blanch the greens for 10-15 seconds or until just wilted. Drain and put in the ice water to cool. Remove and squeeze out excess water.
  3. Combine about half of the bulbs (reserve rest for other use), the nuts, the cheese and lemon juice in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Add the blanched greens and process, while drizzling in olive oil while machine is running.
  4. Stop to scrape down sides and test the pesto for flavor. You may decide to add more lemon juice or more of the ramp bulbs, depending on your preference. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Toss with pasta or serve on toasted baguette slices with ricotta cheese and the pesto.
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