Aren’t they lovely? This gorgeous bunch of Allium tricoccum, commonly known as ramps, spring onions, wild leeks, and wild garlic, is yet another harbinger of spring. Did I mention, they have a fantastically wonderful flavor, too. Ramps are one of the most lovely creations of Mother Nature. They are onion, leek and garlic all rolled into one. I have started a fledgling patch that will not be ready for harvest for at least 10 years! The Goddess has unlimited patience for such things as this. This image is from Rodale’s Organic Life, so you’ll have an idea as what I’ll be harvesting 10 years from now if the rodents with hooves a.k.a. deer, don’t destroy the patch. Anyway, visit the page and you’ll find out everything you need to know about ramps…then go and buy some (they are expensive, so prepare yourself!), if you are like most of us and don’t have a special patch that you can harvest from. A note about that…if you do know of such a patch, please, please, please don’t over-pick the patch. These are becoming a rare and scarce commodity, so don’t be greedy! If you harvest from a wild patch, take no more than 15% and take them from the center of the clump or patch…then tell no one where this patch is! You have The Goddess’s permission to be secretive, to even lie about where you “bought” them…wink, wink!
My favorite preparation for ramps is pesto. The flavors positively sing; it’s wonderful simply tossed with some pasta or added to a risotto. So without further ado,
Wild Woman Ramp Pesto
- 1/3-1/2 cup lacinato kale leaves, coarsely chopped and sautéed briefly in
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12-14 ramps, (use both white & green parts) very well cleaned and chopped
- 1/3 cup lightly toasted pistachio meats or slivered almonds
- Zest of a lemon
- 3-5 tablespoons freshly squeezed juice (see NOTE)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 5-6 grindings of black pepper (on the coarse side)
- 1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (make it the best you can find!)
Sauté the ramps in the olive oil, just until they soften and droop, about 2 minutes. Toss the sautéed ramps, nuts, lemon zest, 3 tablespoons of juice, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, into the bowl of a food processor; pulse a few times just to get everything chopped reasonably fine.
Now, with the motor running, drizzle the olive oil in a slow stream until the mixture is emulsified. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as desired.
NOTE: If you have access to Meyer lemons, you might want to use them here! I also think this is excellent with half an avocado added. You may need to add 2-3 tablespoons of water, if using the avocado. If you want this to more like a chimichurri sauce, purée all the ingredients but the oil; stir the oil in at the end, so as not to emulsify the mixture.
Wild Woman Ramp Pesto Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
Use Meyer lemons, if you can still find them…they are slightly sweeter and add a bit of spiciness to the end product. They are vividly yellow, sometimes slightly orange. They are thin-skinned (so be careful what you say!) and have seeds. They are lovely, so use them with abandon!
Pestos tend to freeze well and should be good in the freezer for a month or two, so you can throw it on a nice flatbread or pizza with some Asiago cheese and roasted asparagus…oh, don’t you just love springtime?
I also love ramps with peas and asparagus, tossed with some pasta. A little cream doesn’t hurt anything, either. If you want to hit all the points, add some fiddleheads, too. Some bits of bacon or prosciutto, fried until crispy are a nice foil. The bacon can be a bit too much, with the smoke and all, but it’s still incredibly good.