Under a warm sun, somewhere in Kentucky... If you look closely, you can almost see the machine, ticking away inside of him. And what of it? He earned his solitude, this idyllic bucolic setting where there's not much to do but make tracks along dusty roads, pick wild things, like ramps and garlic and read mystery books in an old wicker chair that faces the burning sun.
The old man likes to sit, tend to his garden and stare. Staring at whole purple eggplants with dry brown spots that hide underneath paper thin white veils that cover the garden from frost. The old man likes to hide, evading the little punks that exist outside the perimeters and bang away on A4's. He says he can't kill anything but he tells me if I mention him on my blog he'll come to Brooklyn and kill me. (The odds are in my favor though, he doesn't have internet and he doesn't like to travel. So I think I'm safe.)
I ask the old man what he makes with the wild ramps, that he collects, down by the burbling brook edge and he tells me "pesto". The small rhythmic waves of river hugging his bony white feet.
(Text: Dimity Jones)
Using ramps in a pesto is a unique way to make use of this seasonal plant. Ramps are wonderfully pungent and have so much depth that for this pesto, you don't even need to add Garlic. I recommend adding a good quality Pecorino cheese, but if you want to keep the pesto in the fridge, forever, you can omit the cheese (dairy) and just blend it in to taste, before serving. Serve it as you would any regular pesto; over a pasta, tossed with chicken, or salmon, and maybe some sweet spring peas to top it off. I used hazelnuts because I wanted that nutty flavor but since they don't have a high fat content I toasted them in walnut oil. You could just use toasted walnuts instead.
Ramps! Tis the season!
OLD MAN O' KENTUCKY'S RAMP PESTO: Cut the green leaves off the ramps, (store in the freezer to throw into a future chicken or vegetable stock.) Cut the roots off and remove the loose membrane from 2 bunches of farmer's market Ramps. Put in a food processor. Add a handful of Italian Parsley (The proportion of ramps to parsley should be 2:1). Toast a quarter cup of Hazelnuts in 1 tablespoon of Walnut Oil, (or a quarter cup of walnuts) until just browned. (Don't burn). Add to the processor. Blend. Add enough Olive oil to blend further, (3/4 cup to 1 cup). Add Salt, Pepper and finely grated Pecorino Romano (3-4 tablespoons), to taste. (Add more oil, salt, pepper, or cheese until you have the balance right for your taste.) Pour into a storage glass and place in the fridge. Pour over your favorite pasta, or put in a plastic tub and freeze for later months. Makes about 9 oz.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAUL RAESIDE
PAUL RAESIDE is an interior photographer from Clerkenwell, London, where he has a 1715 house and an 8 year old Welsh terrier called Molly. His favorite food is home cooked shepherds pie, lancashire hot pot, rhubarb crumble with burnt edges, and hot cross buns. Paul misses the cheap cookie selection available in the UK, of which he is an expert. (Custard creams being amongst his favorites.) Savvy and well mannered, Paul is always on a diet (apparently). Check out his work, here.