On ramp: Ramp pesto!

I’m a big believer in versatility; much like Alton Brown, I don’t have much room in my life (or my kitchen) for uni-taskers. I need my utensils to slice, dice, AND julienne fry, and I need my miscellaneous condiments to do the equivalent. Can I smear it on toast, rub it on a fish, AND whack it in to pasta? Sold! I am certain this is the root of my deep love for pesto (well, that and all the raw garlic deliciousness)–possibly the most versatile condiment in the world.
Salmon with ramp pesto
Lately, I’ve been trying to push the envelope; though traditional basil pesto is a delight, I have no attention span and like to amuse myself by turning things inside out (you may recall my adventure with Mushroom-walnut pistou). Of particular interest to me lately has been the notion of ramp pesto, built from those elusive and lovely cousins of the leek that are available for only a brief flash each year. They have a lovely, oniony waft about them, and a sweet, gentle flavor that adds tremendous dimension to…well…just about anything where you’d use leeks or onions. They have the added bonus of being completely edible from bulb to tip. Disappointing for your compost pile, great for your appetite.

I had the tremendous good fortune to snag some ramps at the Union Square farmer’s market the other day, and let me tell you: it took serious willpower and restraint not to eat them raw, on the way home. But restrain I did, and as a result I was able to make the pesto of my dreams–delicious, slightly sweet, a touch peppery…the very essence of spring. Served up with some gently roasted salmon, and you have what may well be my favorite experiment ever. Try it, you won’t be sorry.

I’ll let you know how it is on toast.

Ramp pesto
2 bunches (about 8 oz) ramps (bulbs and stems finely chopped, leaves coarsely chopped. Keep leaves and bulbs/stems separate)
2 shallots, finely sliced
1c parmesan cheese
1/2 c pine nuts
4 cloves garlic, peeled
olive oil

  1. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat; saute bulbs, stems, and shallots with a little olive oil until just translucent. Avoid browning if possible. Remove from heat.
  2. In your trusty food processor (working in batches, if need be), whizz together the shallot/bulb mixture with the leaves, garlic, pine nuts and cheese, moistening with olive oil as needed.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste. Smear on everythign that will stand still long enough–delish!
In pesto

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