Ramp Pesto

This goes much, much faster, if you preserve the blanching water and use it to cook your pasta. In fact, dinner will never seem easier. Oh, and that cup of water you reserve from cooking the pasta? It makes the pesto stick to pasta like glue, so you get these beautifully coated stands, or pieces – whatever pasta you choose for this dish.

1 bunch ramps, cleaned and trimmed
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for serving
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Cut the ramps in half, separating the bulbs from the leaves. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the both the bulbs and the greens, in the boiling water for 1 minute, and immediately transfer the ramps (using tongs or a slotted spoon; do not discard the water) to an ice bath. Add the pasta of your choosing to the water (see how I just saved you all this time and you’ve now one less pot to clean?) and cook until the pasta is al dente.
2. While the pasta is cooking, the ramps should, by then, be cool. Transfer the ramps to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the pine nuts and pulse a few times just to combine. Add the cheese and pulse until the mixture looks like it’s finely ground (about 12 pulses should do it). With the motor running slowly drizzle in the olive oil, starting with 1/4 cup, until the mass in the food processor begins to look like a thick slurry. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and add salt and pepper to taste (I found that I had to add a generous sprinkling of salt).
3. As soon as the pasta is ready, ladle out about 1 cup of the pasta water and set it aside. Drain the pasta and return it back into the pot. Return the pot on the stovetop, add a few spoonfuls of the pesto, and using a wooden spoon, start mixing the pesto in. Turn the heat onto low, and add a few splashes of the reserved pasta water, all the while mixing with your spoon. Taste, and add more pesto if your palate, and eyes, desire it. Mix until you get a nicely coated pasta, not pasta dripping with pesto. Remove the pot from heat, and divide the pasta among shallow bowls. Sprinkle additional cheese and drizzle with a hint of the olive oil.

Serves 4

© 2023 Olga Massov