Spring Foraging Favorite: Ramp Pesto!

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? Continue reading

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Ramp + Oregano Pesto. Mmm.

Wow. My brain’s pleasure neurons are still lighting up after discovering this one. Ramp + Oregano pesto, you have won over my heart and my mouth.

Ramp + Oregano Pesto Goodness

This week at the Tremont farmers’ market, one of my favorite farmers (from Por-Bar Farms) had a deal on ramps and oregano with the suggestion of making a pesto.  I hesitated for a moment as I’ve been collecting so many of my own ramps, but I haven’t gathered any for a few days so I went ahead and got the deal. I am happy that I did as this makes a fantastic pesto!!

I looked around at quite a few recipes today, but didn’t find anything quite perfect enough for me, so I took what I learned and developed my own.

To make something similar, you will need:

  • 15 ramps
  • a bunch of oregano (mine was about 1 packed cup)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (and I added about a Tbs extra when blending)
  • 1/4 cup toasted nuts (I thought I had some local nuts in the cupboard, but I ended up using pine nuts)
  • 1/4 cup hard cheese (something like parmesan)

First, you’ll need to chop the ramps.

Chopped ramps

Then you’ll need to pull off the oregano leaves and tightly fill a cup.

Bunch of oregano.

1 Packed cup of Oregano.

Measure out a heaping 1/4 cup of nuts and toast them.  Pine nuts need to be toasted for about 5 minutes.

Heaping 1/4 cup of pine nuts.

Toasting pine nuts.

Add these ingredients plus the olive oil and cheese in a blender or food processor, and mix it all together!  But don’t go for too long because it’s best to still have some texture in the pesto.

Pesto!

And then you can use this anywhere you desire an intensely awesome pesto! I tossed some of mine in a bit of tri-color pasta. Mmm. Depending on how much pesto you use at a time, I’d say this makes about 5 or 6 servings.  It’s about 1 cup of finished pesto product (I have a lot leftover and even was able to freeze some).

Pesto Pasta

My only warning is that it is a bit strong.  You can’t really give me too much onion/garlic, but if you’re sensitive to that taste, you may want to skip this recipe, or leave out some of the white bulbs of the ramps and focus on the green parts.

Also, I have to share that my salads are becoming increasingly exciting as the Spring picks up!  This 100% local side salad included lettuce, radish, mushroom, carrot, and cheese (not yet grated for this picture) all gathered from the farmers’ market.  Perfection!

Spring salad.

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