“EVERYONE! GO GET YOUR RAMPS NOW, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!!”
This was the battle cry I heard at the Inwood Greenmarket this past Saturday as dozens of people elbowed and punched their way through the crowds to get the freshest bunch. After courageously leaping over three women that were beating each other with stalks of rhubarb, I saw the last bunch of ramps. A strong and virile-looking young man tried to grab them from my clutches, but I was able to fwap him in the face with a bunch of organic kale leaves that were within my reach. I came prepared to battle with three crisp dollar bills in my pocket, so I leaped triumphantly towards the cashier, made my transaction, and took home my prized ramps, those fighting for it still dazed and confused as the dust settled.
(The above story is a slight dramatization of actual events. Though, I’d like to think this scenario plays out during the spring at SOME farmers’ market. *sigh* A girl can fantasize…)
In slightly more seriousness, ramps, also known as wild leeks, are well-known for their limited season, so if you are reading this in April or May, you may seem them in abundance at your local farmers’ market. If you are reading this at any other time of the year, be sure to keep this recipe in your back pocket until next spring. You’ll be glad that you did.
It goes surprisingly well with a nice brown rice bowl with tomatoes, avocado, and a fried egg, if you need some non-pasta inspiration.
(Adapted from Food52’s recipe for Wild Ramp Pesto)
(Makes roughly 1 & 1/2 cups)
– 1 bunch ramps, cleaned (bunch sizes range, but I use 8 – 10 ramps)
– 1/2 Parmesan cheese, grated (Please see Before We Get Started… for vegan version)
– 1/2 walnuts, toasted
– 1/3 cup olive oil
– Juice of half a lemon
– Salt, to taste (optional)
Before We Get Started…
– As the Parmesan is already very salty, salt can be omitted. I find the flavor of this pesto to be so bold already.
– Omit Parmesan for a vegan version of this recipe; increase walnuts to 2/3 of a cup for more bulk.
1.) Separate the leaves from the bulbs of the ramps; set bulbs aside. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, blanch leaves for 15 seconds, then immediately transfer leaves to a bowl of iced water. Drain ramps and gently squeeze out as much water as possible. Set aside.
2.) In a small pan, toast walnuts over medium-high heat, approximately 2 – 3 minutes, until golden; do not let them burn! Remove from heat, allow to cool for a few moments, then roughly chop.
3. Add ramp bulbs, blanched ramp leaves, and walnuts to food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add cheese and lemon juice; pulse to combine. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and continue to combine until pesto is formed; it should not be fully puréed, but a thick paste. Scrape down sides of food processor, if necessary.
4.) Refrigerate to store, or use right away! Serving suggestions include using with pasta, grains, bread, vegetables, or chicken.