This is my take on “ramp” pesto as no matter how hard I look, I never seem to be able to find local ramps here in B.C. There was a whisper from a friend that they grow on Vancouver Island…need to follow up on that. Otherwise we have to bring them in from eastern Canada, which I have done but it’s expensive even if they are amazing! What you are looking to buy failing finding ramps, are the youngest green onions you can get your hands at your local farmers market, which will give a more delicate taste. Don’t leave out the toasted crumbs, they really add another dimension to the pasta!
Makes 4 Servings
½ lb. thin young green onions, cleaned & trimmed, cut in half crosswise, or Ramps if you can get your hands on some!
1 lb. spaghetti
½ clove garlic
1 tsp. finely grated fresh lemon zest (a rasp grater is great for this)
6 Tbsp. of your best EVOO
8 Tbsp. fresh Parmigiano Reggiano, grated finely
1/8 tsp. of pepperoncino (red chili flakes)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Accompaniment: toasted bread-crumb topping
3 (1/2”) thick slices whole-grain bread
2 Tbsp. EVOO
Sea salt to taste
Make the Pesto:
Fill a large pasta pot with water & bring to the boil. Add 1-2 Tbsp. salt. Add the garlic to the pot & boil for about 1 minute, then add the green onions to the pot & blanch for about 1 minute until well wilted. Remove the green onions & garlic to a colander, drain well. Set aside the pot of water until ready to cook the spaghetti.
Place the cooled green onions & garlic in a food processor, add the lemon zest, EVOO, peperoncino & Parmigiano to the bowl. Whiz until pureed, then season with salt to taste. Place the mixture in a small bowl, cover & set aside while cooking the spaghetti.
Cook the Spaghetti & Finish the Dish:
Bring the pot of green onion-garlic water to a boil; stir in the spaghetti; cooking until it’s al dente, stirring occasionally. Test the spaghetti about 2 minutes before the stated cooking time on the package. Once al dente, remove 1 cup of the cooking water & set aside, then drain the spaghetti in a colander. Return the spaghetti to the pot, placing over low heat; add ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water & the pesto, tossing & stirring vigorously until well combined & all the spaghetti is coated with the sauce, adding more pasta cooking water if necessary, for about 1 minute, then quickly stir in the butter. Pour the spaghetti into a large, warm serving bowl, top with the toasted crumbs & serve immediately, passing extra Parmigiano.
Make the Toasted Bread-Crumb Topping:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cut the bread into cubes, then grind to crumbs in a food processor. Spread in a shallow baking pan & bake in the middle of the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 – 15 minutes. Pour crumbs into a bowl & stir in EVOO & salt to taste.