If you’re reading this from New York, you’ll certainly know that this spring has been unusually chilly. However, the grey skies and windy days don’t stop me from craving for something fresh and revitalizing to wake up my taste buds after months of eating starchy vegetables and meat stews. We just need a little reminder that this is in fact spring and summer is eventually coming back around again. A girl can dream.
My friend Tom and I happened to be near Union Square last weekend. After some shopping, I suggested that we take a stroll through the Farmer’s Market. And by stroll, I actually meant circling the entire scene, taking a peek into every stand, and then going back to pick up the ingredients necessary for the menu I’d strategically plan in my head. I may have gotten too carried away (fine, we were in a hurry, but still…), so he suggested that we breeze through the stands and try to see what interesting ingredients were available. One of the first things we saw were ramps, which I’d been keeping an eye out for for the past two months with no luck whatsoever! I didn’t have any idea of what to make with them, but the situation dictated that I just buy a bunch and run.
The vendor let us try the ramp pesto he made, and I liked how it tasted. Ramps taste similar to onions, but much less assertive, with a garlicky undertone and an incredibly earthy aroma. I didn’t get a chance (obviously, because we were already running late…) to coax the recipe out of him, but I was pretty content with taking home a bunch of ramps to experiment with.
To replicate the pesto, I put the ramps, pine nuts, grated cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice in the food processor and let them blend until smooth. I also added a handful of Italian parsley, but it really wasn’t necessary. Toss with hot pasta, throw in some fresh peas, poach an egg, and sprinkle some red pepper flakes on top, and you’re in business. If you get all of the components in one forkful, you might just melt with delight.
I have a hunch that this pesto would be awesome on some grilled flatbread, topped with cured meats and cheese. Though I haven’t tried yet. Just a hunch.
Pasta with Ramp Pesto, Peas, and Egg
1 bunch ramps (about 10 stalks), washed, roots removed, coarsely chopped
½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated plus more for topping
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces of dried strand pasta (such as spaghetti, fettucine, tagliatelle, linguine)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
4-6 eggs, poached or sunny-side up
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Add ramps, pine nuts, grated cheese, and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to chop finely. With the motor running, drizzle olive oil in a thin stream and continue to add oil slowly until mixture turns into a paste. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Add peas to the boiling water about three minutes before the pasta is done. Drain (reserving some pasta water) and toss immediately with one cup of ramp pesto, adding reserved pasta water if the pesto is too thick. Serve with additional grated cheese and egg. Garnish with red pepper flakes.
*See instructions for making poached eggs here.