This ramps and hazelnut pesto is quite versatile and can be used in pizza, paired with gnocchi or pasta, and even chicken or fish. It’s the perfect blank canvas for your culinary imagination.
Let’s talk about ramps! Ramps are, ramsom, wild leeks or wild garlic, not to be mistaken with scallions, shallots, or onions. When spring arrived, their images flooded across social media--Instagram, Pinterest, and you name it. Why are ramps so popular? They grow wild in only certain regions along the Appalachian ridge from Georgia to Quebec, and are foraged like truffles. Chefs and home cooks alike go wild for their pungent garlicky-onion flavor.
When I saw a picture of a field of wild ramps on Lawrence’s IG feed, a friend I had met on Instagram, I left a teary emoji knowing the chance of me finding ramps is like winning the lotto (I’m exaggerating of course but it would require a trip to the east coast in the spring and a full force hunt for them). Imagine my surprise when Lawrence sent me a text that the ramps were on their way to my kitchen! A couple days they arrived in a carefully packaged box even with an ice pack to keep them cool during transit. I couldn't be more grateful to get my hands on fresh ramps. I dropped everything I was doing and ran into the kitchen and started experimenting with them. One of the first few things I made was this ramps and hazelnut pesto.
For the pesto, I purposely did not add any garlic to preserve the unique flavor of ramps. I kept my pesto simple with hazelnuts, a little Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice to keep it from turning brown.
To make the pesto, just use a food processor if you're making a big patch. I grew up with a pestle and mortar and will use it occasionally if I'm making a small batch.
This ramp pesto is quite versatile and can be used in pizza, paired with gnocchi or pasta, and even chicken or fish. It’s the perfect blank canvas for your culinary imagination. Good luck finding some and have fun cooking!
Ramps and hazelnut pesto
- Food processor
- ⅔ cup hazelnuts
- 1 ½ cups ramp leaves, washed and roughly chopped
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Dry-fry the hazelnuts in cast iron skillet over medium heat until golden brown, stirring frequently to avoid burning them. Once they’re done and cool enough, peel the skin off.
- In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts to a fine texture and set aside.
- Add the chopped ramps, olive oil, and lemon juice to the food processor and puree until smooth.
- Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese and hazelnuts and pulse for about 1 minute until everything is well combined.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the pesto to a glass container and store in the coldest part of your fridge for up to a week. Or you can freeze the pesto and thaw it when needed.