Pasta with Stinging Nettles and Ramps Pesto
Inspired by Hundred Acres
You’ll note that I said nary a word about ramps, thus totally neglecting them in the write up. Nettles, while lovely, aren’t necessary here and I added them for depth, which you can certainly omit. Given how short a time span ramps are present at farmers’ markets, there’s little opportunity during the year to make this pesto as is. Plus the restaurant’s dish didn’t have ramps – those are my addition entirely.
Also, at some point, you’ll need to cook your pasta. I’ll leave it to you to decide when, during the making of your pesto, you want to do that.
PLEASE DON’T TOUCH THE STINGING NETTLES WITH BARE HANDS. THEY ARE CALLED STINGING NETTLES FOR A REASON. USE RUBBER GLOVES TO HANDLE THEM AT HOME TO AVOID A SKIN IRRITATION.
1 lb fresh pasta, fresh semolina pasta or whatever past you can find (you want spaghetti or linguine – something hearty and thickish)
1 thick bunch of stinging nettles
1 bunch ramps
1/2 cup walnuts
quality extra virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano
1. With rubber gloves, so your hands don’t come in contact with stinging nettles, wash the nettles and trim their ends and any wilted rotting leaves you might find. Set the nettles aside. Remove the gloves.
2. Heat a glug of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
3. Wash ramps carefully and thinly slice them. Add ramps to the oil and saute slowly.
4. Once ramps start looking more translucent and wilted, put the gloves back on and place the nettles on the pan on top of the ramps. Decrease the heat to low and cook until nettles are wilted and turn a darker green.
5. Remove from heat and spoon the nettles & ramps into a food processor. Throw in the walnuts. Add a few glugs of olive oil and start pulsing until the mixture resembles the consistency of pesto. How much oil you add depends on you and how thick or thinnish you like your pesto. There are no rules. This is merely a guideline.
6. Mix as much pesto as you need for however much pasta you are making. I had enough for 6 servings or so, but again, depends on how much pesto you wind up making. Top very generously with Grana Padano. The sharper the bite, the heartier your pesto dish will taste.
Leftover pesto will keep a few days.