In this week's Martin & Sylvia: Saturdays! story “Ramps and Rapunzel”, Momma, Martin, and Sylvia discover a gathering of wild leeks, or ramps, while on a springtime nature walk. When Momma suggests they carefully harvest a few for some ramp pesto, brother and sister wish to return later for more. After they take a few too many, Momma reminds them of a fairy tale where too many ramps were taken—and what happens next!
I can't blame Martin and Sylvia for wanting to take too many ramps. After a long winter of starches and stews, even the tiniest bits of green food look and sound amazing. But if, like Martin and Sylvia, you're craving fresh pesto, you needn't rob your local leek trove. You can make a very tasty pesto using the leftover tops of spring carrots.
You can actually use about any leftover greens to make pesto, but combining carrot tops, mint, and pistachios—as in the recipe below—always screams, “Spring!” to me. This pesto has the brightest green color and it's zestier than the mellow basil pesto that will be coming in summer. Lastly, of course, it's frugal. How fun it is to have a use for those carrot tops you'd otherwise throw away?
While everyone else at my house loves this pesto served on ravioli, I'll confess, my favorite way to eat it is spooned onto a crusty slice of baguette as an easy snack after a morning of work in the garden.
Spring Pesto (makes about 1 ½ cups)
4 cups carrot tops (about 2 standard-size bunches of carrots worth)
20 mint leaves
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
⅓ cup pistachios
about ½ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pulse the washed carrot tops in the bowl of a food processor until they start to break down, then add the mint, garlic, and pistachios. Allow the processor to run continuously for about 30 seconds, then slowly stream in the olive oil. The amount of olive oil always varies a little, but you'll know you've added enough when the mixture suddenly loosens up.
With the processor still running, add 2 teaspoons of salt and the cheese. Let that incorporate, then stop the processor and give your pesto a taste. Add more salt to taste, if necessary, then serve up on pasta, grilled meat, or slathered on crusty bread.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.