Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ramp pesto

Yesterday, I talked about the dicey outcome of my purple potato gnocchi.  The outcome was not typical of past outcomes using Idaho potatoes or red bliss potatoes.  The accompaniment, ramp pesto, is where I expected the inconsistency to come from.  It always is inconsistent.  The earlier the ramps are dug, the smaller they, are the more heat and garlic flavor comes through.  The later in the season, the larger the bulbs, the smoother the garlicky flavor is and the less heat.  The flavor profiles garner the same passion as the arguememt over whether they are called ramps or wild leeks and each camp has its preference.

This early in the season, I love ramps puréed into a smooth pesto with extra leafy green parts, to cut the heat a bit.  I add toasted pecans and about a third as much parsley ( once you have the bunch, pick leaves only, please, take the time, it is woth it) as ramp greens, and throw the in the food processor.  I slowly add olive oil as the mixture breaks down.  Too much and it separates after a spell and not enough will leave a rough texture.  As the season progresses, the leaves can become stringy and makes it harder to come up with a smooth and consistent product.

I do not add salt until after I add the cheese, either Parmagarna Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, and I do not stir in the cheese until right before service.  I use a micro plane to grate it and I do add as I taste until I hit the flavor note I like.  The beauty of pesto...it can be whatever you want and pretty much from whatever green herb/garlic/nut/ cheese combo favors you like.

Pesto is ridiculously versatile.  It is great with pasta, spread on grilled bread, on grilled chicken sandwiches, mixed into potato salad, and stirred into soups in the fall.  I will freeze as much as possible in ice cube trays, pop them out, and keep them in a freezer safe bag for the middle of winter when I am in desperate need of spring!


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