Ramp Week: Simple Pesto

The result of going nuts buying ramps at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday? It's ramp week! First up: a basic pesto for pasta. Thanks to the guy in front of me in the ramp line who said he has a chef friend who purées the leaves for risotto, I decided to make a simple risotto-style pasta (à la Bittman, as I've done twice before with mushrooms and chorizo).

I've posted the recipe below, but I went for the super-basic test approach. From the smell--which was absolutely fabulous--I thought it would completely blow me away. But...it was actually milder taste-wise, so I'm thinking next time I'll add a little lemon zest to the purée, which I think will liven it up a bit. It was still excellent (I haven't had the leftovers yet, so who knows!), but this is definitely a keeper, regardless!

Risotto-Style Pasta with Ramp Pesto
• 1/2 bunch ramps (about 15-18 total)
• 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
• pinch of salt
• 8 ounces pasta (I used fusilli)
• 4 to 6 cups of stock
• 1/2 cup shredded chicken
• 1 cup cremini mushrooms, cleaned and cut into pieces
• freshly-ground black pepper

Wash the ramps. Cut stems off the leaves (the leaves are for the pesto, the stems are for the pasta).

For the pesto:
Purée the ramp leaves, cheese, 1/4 cup olive oil, and pinch of salt in a food processor. Set aside.

For the pasta:
Finely chop the ramp stems. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan, then add pasta and ramps, and stir for about 30 seconds, until pasta glistens. Add 2 cups of the stock, and cook as you would risotto, stirring regularly. When pasta absorbs that liquid, add chicken, mushrooms, and a little more stock. Stir regularly and add stock as necessary, until pasta is done (it should also have a little bit of a creamy sauce). Turn off the heat, and stir in the pesto. Serve with freshly-ground black pepper.

Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a starter/primi piatti.

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