The season for one of my favorite wild edibles will soon be coming to an end. Ramps, or wild leeks, are a favorite spring green that has a very unique onion-garlic-like flavor I’ve come to crave in the spring.
Although I would like to say that I’ve harvested several times already this year, I missed out on much of ramp season, but just HAD to get out there to make some ramp pesto.
I spotted a huge patch awhile back and finally returned there to harvest some ramps.
In the spirit of the latest consensus about sustainable harvesting, I only took the ramp leaves which are very flavorful indeed. I left the bulbs alone so that they can develop into new plants next year. Overharvesting can very quickly decimate a ramp patch (even one as big as this!), and when you can get away with using just the leaves, why not do that and ensure that this species continues to grace the plates of future generations?
Once you have found and identified ramps, they’re pretty hard to miss and confuse for anything else, especially if you take a sniff — they are very strongly scented when you tear into a leaf.
The only plant with leaves that look quite similar is lily of the valley (which is indeed poisonous). However, you’ll quickly see that the leaves unfurl differently around the stem, they have a different flowering pattern, and lily of the valleys certainly do not smell the same. For a more detailed explanation of what to look for, follow this link.
I harvested a paper sack full of ramp leaves and aimed to gather about half a pound.
Back home, I chopped them into 1-inch strips.
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 8 oz. ramp leaves
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- 2 Tbs. pine nuts
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan – Reggiano
- 1/2 Tsp. sea salt
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the ramps as soon as the butter has melted and allow them to wilt. This will take about 2 – 3 minutes and they will turn a darker shade of green. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Transfer the ramps to a food processor. Add the remainder of the ingredients and process for 1 – 2 minutes, scraping the sides as needed until a creamy paste is formed.
This can be used right away, refrigerated for 3 days, or frozen for a month or more.
After using several dabs of the pesto to mix in with our pasta, I transferred the rest to an ice cube tray for easy-to-use pesto cubes. De-thawing one or two at a time is a great way to infuse pastas with flavor or spread onto breads.
As I was photographing and preparing for this post, I thought to myself, “Have I really not posted about ramp pesto before??”. It turns out that I have, but a different recipe. Previously, I shared ramp + oregano pesto which is also amazingly divine if you have access to fresh oregano currently!
What’s your favorite way to eat spring ramps?
(Another favorite ramp recipe: Ramp Biscuits)
Shared on: Wildcrafting Wednesday