Hi from the depths of work and wedding planning. It’s very blurry here. I feel a little bit like I got stuck in the spin cycle of the wash, and things are swirling around me very quickly. Or I’m swirling around them. I haven’t figured out that part yet. Like I said – it’s very blurry.
I will first and foremost apologize that I’m presenting before you these Instagram photos and basically saying, “Have a nice day!” But it’s been a bit rough trying to get real work done, chase down remaining wedding items, and recipe-test-style-shoot-edit-publish for the blog. Sometimes, you just gotta let one thing go, you know? This is one of those times. So I’m sorry to give you these pictures and then expect you to get hungry.
However, if there’s a greenmarket near you and they are selling ramps, I highly recommend that you get there post haste and grab some ramps. If you want to keep them for a bit longer (seeing as the ramps season is like blink-and-you-miss-it kind of a thing), you might want to trim and clean them first and then lovingly wrap them in damp (not wet!) paper towels. I find that Bounty paper towels work incredibly well for this as they keep their dampness the best. If you’re much greener than I am (and this household is pretty green), any damp cloth, that’s not terribly thick, will do. Wrap the ramps snugly, but not tightly, so they have a bit of room to breathe, tuck the leaves underneath, and put them somewhere in your crisper where they won’t get smushed. That way, they should last you a few weeks.
You can also just pickle them. They last a year (or longer) and are pretty ridiculous in cocktails (think bloody marys par excellence) or served as a garnish to a steak. Or you can do what I do and just eat them straight out of the jar.
Or you can just make this pesto. It’ll take you about half an hour, tops. And all that with boiling pasta, too. Here’s why: Instead of dumping the water you use to blanch the ramps, you reuse it for pasta. There – twenty minutes (and one less pot to wash) saved right here. If that’s not practical approach to weeknight cooking, I don’t know what is.
One other thing regarding these pictures. I have to say that cooking, without having to pause and take a shot and rearrange the stuffs on your counters, is a much more pleasant, gratifying experience. It lends your mind to be in the moment, so to speak; there’s a meditative, restorative, contemplative aspect to it. And so in thinking this, I might, from time to time (and probably very likely until after the wedding), resort to fewer slr-taken pictures and more words and recipes. I know full well the pull and weight of a good visual, but at the end of the day, what I really want is for you to want to get in your kitchens and make something delicious.
This pesto is delicious. Now, go and make it. And me? I’m going to chase my wedding florist down about those Mason jars. Wish me luck.
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
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.