5.25.11 The Wild Bunches
I'm up to my eyeballs in greenery. We've had SO MUCH rain that the entire landscape is like a sopping chartreuse sponge. The bleeding hearts are blooming, the ferns have unfurled and the weeds are seriously out of control. I'm a little overwhelmed, frankly, what with G laid up in bed and the planting still ahead of me. The storm windows need to come out and the screened-in porch needs cleaning and repair from storms and raccoons... How will it all get done? There's been some mention of a handyman, and I'm looking forward to the moment one actually materializes. Up here in Sullivan County, much is promised and little delivered. Not that I'm complaining. The change in weather has also brought ramps, scallions, rhubarb, asparagus and the prospect of an excellent growing season. Until our own crops start to come in (ages from now, possiblynever), I'll continue to forage from the local farmers markets which are up and running. This past weekend I scooped up 10 bunches of ramps to pickle (recipe coming). Also 2 gorgeous bunches of scallions which I'll use to make Francis Lam's delicious scallion-ginger sauce (recipe also coming), great with dumplings, poached chicken or even as the basis of a salad dressing. The greens from both ramps and scallions I use for a divine, jade-colored pesto.
fresh bunches of ramps and scallions
Both kinds of greens bring a pungent oniony flavor to this pesto, so I don't add any garlic, but it's a recipe that's easy to adapt to suit your taste. Mine is made with toasted walnuts, but pine nuts or even almonds would be good. Instead of the parmesan, you might try pecorino or even a dry goat cheese. I think that lemon and salt are both essential for balance and brightness.
cheese and nuts for richness, zest for...zest
definitely toss in any scallion blossoms with the greens
ramp greens have a more delicate, almost spinach-like texture, but a strong flavor
How to eat this pesto? Tossed with nutty whole wheat spaghetti and a dollop of ricotta. Made into a compound butter to eat with grilled steak. Slathered on a ham sandwich. Spread on crostini and topped with an anchovy. Not sold yet? Stirred into homemade mayonnaise as a dipping sauce for cold artichokes. Rolled inside a roasted pork loin. OK?
this keeps in a jar in the fridge for a week or so (you'll use it up before then)
Spring Greens Pesto
makes 1 1/2 cups
— 1 tablespoon lemon juice
— 2 generous pinches sea salt
— 1 tablespoon lemon zest
— 1 cup parmesan
— 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
— 2 ounces ramp greens
— 2 ounces scallion greens and blossoms
— 2/3 cup olive oil
In the bowl of a food processor, combine scallion greens (and any blossoms) and ramp greens and pulse 5 or 6 times. Add walnuts, cheese, zest, salt and lemon juice, and pulse several times. Then, with the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Start with half, then stop and check the consistency. You want it to be relatively smooth and slightly loose. Add some or all of the rest of the oil as needed, with the machine running. Taste for salt and lemon, and add more if you like.