Playing Rachael's Creamy Ramp Pesto Fusilli Lunghi and Chicken Finger Parm with Tomato Basil Dipping Sauce

Rach kicks up the flavor on chicken fingers and pasta with pesto by spicing up the breadcrumb mixture and using ramps in the pesto for a fresh spring fix

Ingredients
For the Creamy Ramp Pesto Fusilli Lunghi
  • ½ pound ramps, cleaned and trimmed of root, separate bulbs and stems from leaves (if ramps are out of season, use a combination of basil, parsley, mint, garlic and chives)
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachios or hazelnuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (a handful)
  • About ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • ¾ cup or 6 ounces Bufala ricotta or fresh cow’s milk ricotta
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 pound long fusilli or spaghetti
  • Ground pink peppercorn, to serve
For the Tomato Basil Dipping Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped or grated
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups passata or tomato puree
  • 1 can (28 ounces) San Marzano tomatoes
  • A small handful of basil leaves, torn
For the Chicken Fingers
  • 4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast with tenderloin attached
  • 1½ cups AP flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Olive oil, for shallow frying
Preparation

For fusilli, bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta.

Blanch the ramp tops in boiling water, 15-20 seconds, then cold shock and dry. Tops should be bright and vibrant green in color. Coarsely chop tops.


Add ramp bulbs, stems and blanched tops to food processor with lemon zest and juice, pistachios or hazelnuts, and cheese. Pulse to finely chop, stream in the EVOO, then add ricotta and salt, process to almost smooth and adjust salt to taste. Transfer to a large bowl.

Salt pasta water and cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions for al dente. Add about 1 cup pasta cooking water to sauce in bowl, add pasta and toss to coat. Top pasta with pink pepper and serve; pass additional freshly grated cheese.

For dipping sauce, heat a saucepot or small Dutch oven over medium heat with EVOO. Melt butter into oil, and add onions, garlic, and salt. Cook until very soft but not browned, 5-6 minutes, then add stock and bring to boil, add puree and tomatoes, break up tomatoes, stir in basil and simmer at low bubble, 20 to 30 minutes. For a smooth dipping sauce, use immersion blender to puree.

For chicken, remove tenders and butterfly each breast into 2 cutlets then cut each cutlet in half lengthwise, the yield will be 5 tenders from each piece of chicken, 20 fingers total.

Preheat oven to 275˚.

Arrange breading station: flour seasoned with salt and pepper, eggs whisked with salt and pepper, combine breadcrumbs and panko with cheese and spices and fresh chopped parsley. Bread fingers in flour, egg and Parm breadcrumbs.

Heat the frying oil, about 1/8 inch, in large skillet over medium to medium-high heat and cook chicken in batches to deep golden, 6-7 minutes. Keep warm on wire rack-lined baking sheet in oven

Serve tenderloins with dipping sauce alongside.