S/O/L/E Food Tuesday - Visit ChezUs Ramp Pesto and Mac and Cheese

Hello my friends from the meat-free side of spectrum! Here is a long overdue installment in our non-wimpy meat-free series, S/O/L/E Food Tuesday.

As regular readers know, I've jumped into the Twitter pool. Deep end. Happy to report the water's fine. I've met so many great food writers, sustainable food activists, gourmet home cooks, chefs, photographers, wine writers, it's been so fun. Like being at an ongoing virtual cocktail party, but it's much easier on the waistline. Unless of course, you hook up with my wino friends on Twitter, then you get into those Twitter Taste Live events and ...well, I digress.

Let's talk about a new dish or two to put into the meat-free rotation, shall we?

Ramps just sing Spring time and I love nothing more than grilling some with a little citrusy olive oil and salt. We usually have plans to do something else with them but we just don't seem to have any will power. After the first one or two off the grill, all caramelized and unctous and crispy at the same time; those plans are gone.

This may be the recipe that changes all that.

Ramp Pesto Mac and Cheese


Recipe:  Ramp Pesto Mac and Cheese

8 oz. fontina cheese

8 oz. mascarpone cheese

8 oz. asiago, grated

1/4 cup ramp pesto

1 lb elbow pasta, cooked until al dente

1/4 cup reserved pasta water

kosher salt, to taste

fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions, drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Mix cheeses (reserve about 1/4 cup of asiago),  with the reserved pasta water, until creamy, season with salt and pepper.  Mix pasta with pesto and cheese mixture and mix until blended.  Add to a buttered baking dish and sprinkle remaining asiago cheese on top.    Bake at 350 for about 20 - 30 minutes, until golden brown and lightly crispy on top.  Serve.  Eat.

Sensible Sustainability

This meal is a perfect example of the concept I call "sensible sustainability." Some who like to be more dogmatic about these things will talk about a purely locavore diet. (I note for the record these types often live in the bull's eye surrounded by Pacific Ocean fish, Napa Valley Wines, and year-round stellar produce.) If we truly followed that, true Italian cheeses would be verboten. And pasta too, unless you grow within a 100 mile radius of wheat, which I don't. I've heard people exhorting us to buy only domestic wines. But a European wine might have a smaller carbon footprint than a domestic wine from the West Coast for me.

So let's be reasonable, shall we? One of the easiest ways to "Green" your diet is to eliminate or reduce food waste. Reducing waste is an unsung hero in the arsenal of tools to combat global warming. (How many metaphors can I mix here?) Read about the low carbon diet and food waste impacts at the great Bon Appetit Management Company site or read my summary of the Low Carbon Diet here (links to BAMCO are included)

Make this meal S/O/L/E Food by buying local, organic ramps. If you're in SF like Denise is you can get excellent olive oils such as Pasolivo.They grow Tuscan varietal heirloom olives and press them with local citrus for outstanding, prize-winning oils. We love to brush their Meyer Lemon or Tangerine oil on ramps that we grill. Reduce the impact by making only what you'll eat. Tough outer leaves can be frozen for stock. If you're ambitious, make your own pasta. That reduces the packaging used in the making of the meal and the carbon impact of manufacturing the box, trucking the pasta.

And the simple act of eating a meal, try one meal a week, meat-free has significant positive benefits for your health, the environment. Not using animal protein gets you that second vowel - E for ethical. (See Kim O'Donnel's excellent A Mighty Appetite here, for the recent news on other meat-free initiatives.)

So relax, enjoy and go say hello to my friends at ChezUs!

Our Contributors this week - ChezUs

Check out the beautiful ChezUs website here, for great recipes and fun posts. 

Denise and Lenny cook and shoot, eat and critique out of a small San Francisco kitchen. Their site has video, podcasts and more. 


Other S/O/L/E Food Recipes: