My wild ramp pesto takes only a handful of ingredients to make and adds a wonderful garlicky kick to your recipes.
As ramp season draws to a close, I try to extend it a bit longer by making ramp pesto, ramp butter, and pickled ramps. The ramp pesto is made with a handful of ingredients-ramps, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Some people put Parmesan in the pesto but I prefer leaving it out to last a bit longer.
- Ramps: They grow wild in only certain regions along the Appalachian ridge from Georgia to Quebec, and are foraged like truffles. They lend a wonderful pungent garlicky-onion flavor. If you can’t find ramps, substitute with wild garlic. Use only the leaves for the recipes and save the bulbs for pickling.
- Pine nuts: pine nuts are delicious, little teardrop-shaped nuts used in making pesto and baked goods. They have a soft texture and sweet, buttery flavor when raw. Toasting them on the stove brings out its wonderful flavor. If you don’t like pine nuts, I also have a hazelnut version and pistachio version.
For a small batch, I prefer using a pestle and mortar to make the ramp pesto. Alternatively use a food processor if you’re making a big batch. It will last up to 1 week in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer. The ramp pesto is quite versatile and can be used in bread, pizza, paired with gnudi or pasta, a garnish for soup, and roasted chicken or fish. It’s the perfect blank canvas for your culinary imagination.
Wild Garlic Ramp Pesto
- 4 ounces wild ramp leaves, chopped, green parts only
- 3/4 cups olive oil
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- sea salt to taste
- Toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat until golden brown, stirring frequently to avoid burning them.
- Use a pestle and mortar to pound the chopped ramps and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a paste. Add the pine nuts, remaining olive oil, lemon juice and pound to mix together. Season with salt to taste.
- Alternatively, in a food processor, add the chopped ramps, pine nuts, olive oil, and lemon juice and puree until smooth. Season with salt to taste.
- Transfer the pesto to a glass container, top off with a little olive oil. Store in the coldest part of your fridge for up to a week. Or you can freeze the pesto for up to 6 months and thaw it when needed.