Pesto is one of those food paradoxes where on one hand, it’s great when people are familiar and aware enough of it to make it but on the other hand, the common conceptions about it seems to limit participants’ imaginations. Put another way: it’s awesome that anyone would whip up a batch of green puree out of basil and pine nuts of all things for themselves, but to me the concept of pesto has become too monolithic as a result. The reason pine nuts were initially employed, from what I can gather, is that they were available. Honestly, around here they are expensive and difficult to deal with and not even as flavorful/appropriate as other ingredients on adjoining store shelves.
Long ago we extolled the virtues of using pistachios in pesto, an idea posited by the Good Eats ep, Sometimes You Feel Like A…. We’d had leftover ramps from the salsa in the last post and Elizabeth had the bright idea to throw whatever was left of them into the mix, along with olive oil, fresh parm, and the pistachios. I don’t even know what the proportions are, and honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary to report them. Just add by eye and blend (in a food processor or with a stick blender, a standard blender will not work well here, trust me…), modulating the mix with olive oil and nuts until you get a consistency you like,. likewise with ramps and cheese to get a taste you like. There is a mild garlic taste to the ramps, but their subtle fresh oniony-ness cannot be beat or simulated. This is one of those transient food delights (I’m reminded of a Seinfeld episode about to a particular type of peach that’s only available for two weeks a year)that’s here in the spring and then gone, like some kind of delicious green Flying Dutchman.
So, friends, avail yourself of what’s good and be patient for the return of old favorites. Have a wonderful weekend. Cook on!
Alton educates us about nutty goodness: