|Garlicky Parsley Pesto Spring Pasta|
The beauty of cooking with ingredients that are freshest in the Spring months are their pure simplicity. The standout flavours are the fresh, natural ingredients themselves... the pop of a freshly shelled pea or the bite of arugula. Top poached halibut with a citrusy vinaigrette and serve with asparagus sautéed in a bit of olive oil and topped with a dash of sea salt or sauté fresh peas with spring onions in butter and delicate chervil for a side that is surprisingly ripe with flavour.
Green garlic is garlic that is harvested before the scape (the flower bud) and bulb form. It is sometimes called domestic ramps as they are similar in taste to wild ramps (a short-season wild leek with a garlicky flavour). Green garlic is the perfect crop to get us through the time between old storage garlic and the fresh garlic harvest which is still a month away. The garlic available in stores right now is from last year’s harvest and is generally kind of soft, ready to spout, and without too much flavour. Use green garlic like you would scallions, including the green leaves which you can chop finely and sauté or caramelize as you wish.
Ramps, I have learned, are leek like oniony bulbs that make an appearance in early spring. We don’t find ramps in the Okanagan, at least I’ve never seen them. (If you know of a source, YES, I am interested). But as this recipe suggests I am certain you can use those in place of the green garlic, one of my favourite early Spring finds. Since ramps have tiny bulbs at the bottom, you may need to trim those and sauté them first, before adding the leaves, as they will take a bit longer to soften. Ramps can be less-strong in flavour than wild garlic. So if you want to use them, you could use up to 8 ounces (225g.)
**Garlicky Parsley Pesto Spring Pasta**
2 packed cups flat-leaf parsley, stems removed
2 cups ramps, green garlic, or a mixture of 4 cloves garlic and the green parts of 4 scallions
½ cup walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon zest (from one lemon)
¼ cup lemon juice (from one lemon)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1 bunch thin asparagus
1 pound dried thin spaghetti or cappellini
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor add parsley, ramps or green garlic, and walnuts; pulse for 1 minute until small consistency.
Add lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper to the pesto mixture and pulse once again to incorporate, tasting and adding more olive oil and seasoning, as necessary. Once the pesto is to your taste, set it aside.
Once the water is boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the asparagus: trim and discard any woody ends. Thinly slice the asparagus lengthwise, so it mimics the pasta in shape.
A minute before the pasta is done, add the sliced asparagus to the boiling water. After a minute, drain the pasta and asparagus, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pasta and asparagus to the pot and toss with reserved pesto. Serve topped with a few grinds of black pepper and additional grated Parmesan.
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