This bright spicy pesto has charred tomatoes which adds a different dimension to this dish. Topped with freshly grated ricotta salata cheese, its not only beautiful, but quite delicious. This Ramp Pesto Pasta dish can be served hot or at room temperature and comes together in about 30 minutes. Click here to: to read more about ramps by our Seasonal Chef Maria Reina.
Ramps have a sharp flavor: a cross between an onion and garlic. Giving them a quick sauté helps take the edge off and mellows them slightly.
1 lb dry pasta, I used the Casarecce shape
Extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
2 bunches of ramps, cleaned and roughly chopped, about 4 oz
6 cups spinach, packed
2 dry pints cherry tomatoes, rinsed
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, divided, roughly chopped
1/4-1/2 cup grated ricotta salata cheese
1. Bring a small pot of water to bowl and add one teaspoon of salt for every quart. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions to al dente.
2. In a small sauté pan, over medium high heat, drizzle with a little oil and cook the ramps for 1-2 min, to wilt and get a little color. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
3. Add the spinach to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Remove and place in a bowl to cool slightly.
4. Add the cherry tomatoes to the hot pan and drizzle a little oil over them and cook for 3-5 minutes until they char a bit. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and leave them in the pan.
5. Place 1/4 cup if the hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to break up. Add the ramp-spinach combination and process until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. With the motor running slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil. Scrape down the sides. Your pesto will be thick. 6. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the pasta water and slowly drizzle that into the processor while its running. Scrape down the sides. Taste for seasoning.
7. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the water, and place in a large bowl. Add about 1/2 of the pesto, the remaining nuts and 1/4 cup of the cheese and mix, making sure you get all the pasta covered. If the pasta is a little sticky drizzle in some of the pasta water to smooth it out.
8. Add the tomatoes and fold in carefully, trying to not break them up. Serve warm or room temperature topped with the remaining cheese.