Monday, April 23, 2012


After a recent visit to the Manhattan Fruit Exchange in Chelsea Market, I was excited to see that they had black garlic, ramps and fava beans.  Of course they did. They are one of the top produce vendors that service many of the restaurants in the City.  I enjoyed getting many spring-time goodies that day.  Some people get excited about shoes.  I get excited about good products to cook with.  How could I resist some impulse-buying here?

My first thought was to make a ramp and black garlic pesto. Different. Very.  But, you would have to be a true garlic lover for this one, since the ramps have a robust garlic flavor all by themselves.  Add the sweet and syrupy molasses flavor of black garlic and quite a combination is the result. I used toasted pine nuts as the traditional pesto nut for this one.  And, as with any pesto, this is perfect with pasta, so I pulled out the whole wheat pappardelle from the pantry. I also made fresh fava beans, which have a buttery texture, slight bitterness and a nutty flavor.  Then I added freshly grated parmesan cheese.   This dish is perfect for Meatless Mondays.

Ramps are also known as wild leeks 

Black garlic is a type of fermented garlic

1 bunch of ramps
4 cloves of black garlic
1/3 cup of pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Separate the ramp tops from the stems.  Wash ramp tops well. Dry in salad spinner.

Place ramps, black garlic, toasted pine nuts into a food processor or blender and process until ingredients are combined.  While machine is running, drizzle in olive oil until the mixture is well combined and smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Makes about 1 cup of pesto.

10 cups cooked pasta of any choice
3/4 cup Pesto
4-5 oz. Fava Beans
Salt for fava bean water
1/8 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Chopped parsley, optional

Fava beans are slightly bitter and nutty
Remove beans from the pods by running a finger up the seam of the pod, splitting it open and removing the beans.  Then, put the fava beans into boiling salted water and blanch for about 30-45 seconds.  Remove beans from boiling water and submerge them in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.  With your fingers, squeeze the beans out of the skin.  Now, the beans are ready to add to any dish or just eat by themselves. 

Combine cooked pasta and pesto.  Add fava beans.  Grate some fresh parmesan cheese on top.  Add a few pieces of chopped parsley.  That's it.

Ramp and Black Garlic Pesto With Fava Beans on Whole Wheat Pappardelle

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