Spring foraging is in full effect, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s almost as if the season changed overnight here in Minnesota. Social media is littered with posts about morel hunting and ramp harvesting, so naturally a simple recipe to honor our most lauded wild spring edibles is in order.
Pesto pairs perfectly with fresh pasta and crispy buttered bread. Make sure to get the good stuff for this recipe. Parmesan shakers and those funny bottles of lemon juice won’t cut it. Quality is everything here, and leveling up the ingredients makes a noticeable difference in the final product.
Not only is pesto one of my go-to recipes for the spring, but it's also one of my favorite ways to preserve ramps aside from blanching and freezing the leaves for future applications. I love having a couple of vacuum-sealed packs of pesto in the freezer, ready and waiting for a quick meal.
- 10-12 oz. fresh pasta
- 8 oz. blanched ramp leaves
- 1 cup quality extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup toasted pine nuts
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp. freshly minced garlic
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. coarse salt
- Cold water
- Pasta water
Also works with
- Bring a pot of water to a strong simmer. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Blanch the ramps in the water for 20 to 30 seconds then immediately strain and move the ramps to the ice water. Gently mix the leaves until cooled and strain any excess water. Coarsely chop the ramps.
- In a sauté pan on medium-low heat, gently toast the pine nuts until lightly browned. Toss occasionally to ensure even toasting. Once browned, allow the nuts to cool on a sheet tray.
- Add ramps, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in a blender or food processor. Purée the pesto until smooth. Add a splash of cold water if the pesto needs to be thinned to purée evenly. Cover and set aside.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Boil the fresh pasta until al dente and strain. Make sure to save some of the pasta water and do not rinse the pasta.
- In a sauté pan on low heat, add a splash of the pasta water and a few large spoonfuls of the pesto. Season lightly with salt. Now add the strained noodles and begin tossing the pesto to coat the noodles. Add as much pesto as necessary until you've reached the desired amount and use more pasta water to thin as needed. You are only warming the pesto, so do not overcook.
- Remove and serve immediately with freshly grated block parmesan, cracked black pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add some toasted buttered bread for good measure.
Note: This recipe intentionally makes extra pesto, so feel free to double the noodles if you’d like to serve more people at once or store for another recipe.