I might have gotten a bit overly excited last week about the arrival of Ramps in the Greenmarket, but I don’ t think that I was the only one. This green-stained table at Mountain Sweet Berry Farm’s stand is evidence of what the farmer there called a Ramp-age over this seasonal green (o.k. so we had a giggle about this). By a little bit after 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday of this week, they were clean out of them. No matter. I was there buying potatoes anyway, I have plenty of Ramps for this week. So many, in fact, that I decided to make Ramp Pesto.
Ramps are pretty pungent, so a little bit goes a long way, as I mentioned in the recipe for Sautéed Asparagus and Ramps. Like a traditional Pesto, this is very green and herbal in taste and texture. It also has a strong flavor, so it is definitely for the garlic lovers among you. It is perfect to mix with mashed potatoes, goats cheese, or into eggs for an omelette or fritatta for that punch of garlic-ness. The flavor does mellow somewhat when you combine with other things, but there’s still plenty of zing left in it to spice up a dish.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Serving Size: 1/2-2/3 cup pesto
1/3 c. Walnuts
1/4 c. grated Parmesan Cheese
1/3 c. grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Put walnuts in single layer on baking sheet. Put baking sheet in oven and let cook for 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. In the meantime, wash ramps, cut off the hairy ends, and remove the filmy outer layer.
Then, cut off the white end part from the leafy green part of the ramps. Cut the whites and tough stems into about 1- to 2-inch pieces. Do the same with the green part.
When the walnuts have toasted, remove them from the oven to cool for one minute. Put the walnuts and the whites and stems of the ramps in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop finely.
Add the Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheeses and the black pepper and pulse the food processor to combine the ingredients. The mixture will start to resemble a coarse paste.
Now add the ramp leaves and 1 Tbsp of the olive oil to the food processor and pulse the ingredients to chop them finely.
Add another Tbsp of olive oil and continue to process the mixture until it becomes a fine paste.
The result of all this pulsing and chopping is a beautiful lime green colored creation flecked with kelly green pieces of the ramp leaves. The finished pesto blended perfectly with the mashed potatoes that I made to test it with, giving the potatoes a garlicy lift with a back note of a grassy aroma, sort of like that from running one’s toes through a freshly mowed, damp lawn.