• Leslie Lennox

March went out like a lion and April comes in like a lamb...sort of...

First, I hope you are all well. My microcosm, in our apartment, has been a very pleasant place overall. We have gotten the band back together, that is, my husband Dave, our daughter Hope and me. We are staying close to family and friends via text, email, phone, FaceTime and Zoom; watching Netflix (Tiger King and Unorthodox), Amazon Prime (Marianne & Leonard, The Farewell, Once Were Brothers) and a whole lot of CNN and NY1. Thank goodness for Andrew and Chris Cuomo. They are the truth tellers I need! I have never been busier in the kitchen, trying to use this time to be very creative with beans, pasta and lots of tomato sauce. We are so looking forward to being able to walk freely through NYC streets, go into a grocery store and wander through the Union Square Greenmarket. It will happen...hopefully, sooner rather than later.


I bring you a very special PESTO flavor this April...RAMP PESTO. Last year at this same time, I was able to actually purchase bunches of beautiful ramps at the aforementioned Union Square Greenmarket.


For those of you not in the know, ramps are wild onions, part of the allium family. They look like a green onion or scallion with green flat leaves, a purple streak running up it's stem, and they are rich with a wonderful garlic flavor that mellows as it cooks. Only available for a short period, late March through early June, I highly recommend you grab a few bunches, try them out, and hope that you will love them as much as I do.

Of course, my favorite thing to do with them is make RAMP PESTO. I will typically purchase a few bunches every week they are available and freeze as many jars as our freezer will hold to use throughout the year.

RAMP PESTO Recipe:


2 cups chopped Ramps (Leaves and stems)

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1/6 cup Almonds (whole, slivered, sliced)

1/2 Lemon, zest and juice

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)


**NO GARLIC needed as Ramps have such a strong flavor


Place all the ingredients except EVOO into your food processor. Pour the EVOO through the feed tube while pulsing for 10 seconds. Stop and scrap down the sides of the bowl and pulse again for another 10 seconds. Taste to see if any adjustments are needed, such as more salt, lemon juice, or EVOO if you prefer a smoother consistency. If you are satisfied, place in a bowl or jar with a thin layer of EVOO over the top.



A few simple ideas:


Prepare a burger patty and add a dollop of Pesto in the center. Fold all the sides towards the center and reform patty. Cook.

Prepare a pizza. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Par-cook the dough (7 minutes). Remove from the oven, spread the Pesto over the dough, top with whatever ingredients you have at hand, return to the oven for another 7 minutes. Serve.

Toast a thick slice of bread (photo upper right). Chop or slice jammy egg, sprinkle salt and pepper and top with a dollop of Pesto.


EXTRA BONUS PESTO OF THE MONTH: BROCCOLI STEM PESTO


I have been making do lately, and in my world that means everything is fair game to be made into PESTO. I had a bunch of broccoli in the refrigerator and planned on roasted broccoli floret pasta. We are heavily invested in boxes and bags of dried pasta of every shape, size and flavor. I have made Broccoli Stem Pesto many times and was excited to see Chef Jose Andres included this recipe in his Vegetables Unleashed Cookbook last year.


Scroll through these photos:


BROCCOLI STEM PESTO Recipe:


2 cups Broccoli Stems

1/4 cup grated Dried Rosemary Asiago cheese (if you are unable to locate, use regular Asiago)

1/6 cup Pine Nuts

2 Garlic cloves

1/8 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)


Peel the outer skin of the broccoli stems. Slice into coins. Blanch for 30 seconds. Drain. Add all the ingredients with the exception of the EVOO into the food processor. Pour the EVOO through the feed tube while pulsing for 10 seconds. Stop and scrap down the sides of the bowl and pulse again for another 10 seconds. Taste to see if any adjustments are needed, such as more salt or EVOO if you prefer a smoother consistency. If you are satisfied, place in a bowl or jar with a thin layer of EVOO over the top.



A simple recipe:


Roasted Broccoli Florets and Trivelli Spiral Pasta with Broccoli Stem Pesto:


Cut the broccoli head into small florets. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with EVOO, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes. At the same time, place the pasta in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Save 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain and return to the pot. Add the pesto, as much or as little as you like. Mix and add the saved pasta water to emulsify. Add the broccoli florets, grated Asiago cheese and serve.


If you would like to find out more about my cookbook, PESTO: The Modern Mother Sauce, please visit my website: www.hopesgardenspesto.com and go to the COOKBOOK tab to purchase through your preferred retailer.


Until next time...


Everything is better with PESTO!


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Illustrations by Anna Repp