May 19th, 2010

{recipe} Pasta & Peas with Ramp Pistachio Pesto

Ramp season again. Actually, I think we’re nearing the end. And I almost made it without posting a ramp recipe. But… not quite.

Yes. You sense correctly. I’m hesitant to post ramp recipes. Always have been. And though I’m completely aware that this may seem (okay, is) totally random, I just can’t help but wonder how many people actually have access to ramps and, of those who do, how many are willing to dish them up to little kids.

But then there they were. At the farmer’s market. Looking all pretty. And I couldn’t help myself. Because, despite my ambivalence about posting ramp recipes, I, personally, love them. Pungent, springy, fresh. Delicious. So, I grabbed some determined to make a family-friendly ramp pasta. Again.

Pesto is a great way to enjoy ramps as part of a family-friendly meal. Their adult-friendly flavor shines while taking on a creaminess thanks to kid-friendly parmesan cheese and olive oil. Though this pesto has a (delightfully) sharp edge, it totally works for kids in small amounts and maybe with some extra cheese. And that’s a great thing about pesto: it’s easy to adjust the amount, and thus intensity, based on personal taste.

And speaking of personalizing this, feel free to go wild. Add the peas to the pesto itself or maybe whirl in some spinach. Switch out pistachios for walnuts (which seems to be the most popular choice to pair with ramps). Add more cheese or (if you’re crazy!) less. Play with this recipe ’til your heart’s content. And enjoy ramps. Without ambivalence.

Have you tried ramps? Are they easy to get in your area? Would you try serving this—or any other ramp recipe you’ve come across—to your little ones? Let me know and maybe we won’t go through this again next year! (Though I make no promises!)

Pasta & Peas with Ramp Pistachio Pesto
serves 4
(can be served to kids 8+ mos)*

FOR THE PESTO
(makes 1 1/2 c)
1 bunch ramps, roughly chopped
3/4 c roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
1/2 c parmesan cheese
juice 1 lemon
salt and pepper
1/3 c olive oil

FOR THE PASTA
1 lb fettuccine or your favorite long pasta
1 c peas
1 Tbsp butter
salt and peper

1. Put a large pot of salted water on medium-high heat (about 6 qts water to 2 tbs salt). Bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, adding peas to pasta and water for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time. Drain, saving a mugful of cooking water, and set pasta and peas aside.

2. While the pasta cooks, make the pesto: Place all pesto ingredients other than the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until it turns into a paste. Continue pureeing while slowly pouring in the olive oil. Keep doing so until it becomes smooth (approximately!) and creamy.

3. Mix 3/4 c pesto** and butter with pasta and peas in a pot over low heat. Toss until well coated. Add pasta cooking water—in small amounts—as necessary.

*Note: This might seem young, but ramps, like garlic, leeks and onions, are safe for early eaters. The flavor may be a little strong, but there’s no harm in giving it a try. Little kids all over the world share strong, even spicy, flavors with their grown-ups!

**Note: Add more or less depending on your personal taste and the tastes of the people you’re feeding. No matter how much you use for this dish, if using only 1 lb of pasta, you’ll have left over pesto. Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, pop them out and store in the freezer in a zip lock bag.

2 Responses

  1. natalie says:

    WHat are ramps? This sounds fantastic!

  2. One Hungry Mama says:

    oh my… i can’t believe that i didn’t explain or link to more info on ramps. every once and a while, my NYC-centric POV reveals itself, huh?! i took it for granted! ramps are wild leeks, also referred to as wild onions. they have a strong flavor—like a combo of onion and strong garlic. they are a springtime veg that are only around for a short period of time, which is one of the reasons why people go nuts for them. You can learn more about them here: http://southernfood.about.com/cs/ramps/a/ramps.htm. also, the write up includes a great link to a place where you can buy them seasonally: http://www.earthy.com/search.cfm?UserID=4302382&jsessionid=6030162b5485Y$9Ah$88. Both links include pics so that you can see what they look like and try to id them at your local farmer’s market.

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