As the ramp season is but a fleeting moment in time, I like to find uses that will extend their flavor as long as possible. Pesto is a great way to preserve ramps because it stores a few days in the refrigerator and can also be frozen. Here I made two versions: Ramp Pesto captures all the garlicky goodness ramps have to offer, and Basil Ramp Pesto is a classic pesto replacing garlic with ramps, for those who prefer a tamer version.
Making pesto is very easy, especially if you own a food processor. I prefer quickly blanching the ramps and basil, which helps preserve their bright green color, instead of the murky color some pestos can turn. You can leave out that step if you want. You can adjust the nuts used in either recipe, replace the parmesan for pecorino, or use nutritional yeast to make a vegan version, even change the greens, feel free to experiment with the items you have on hand.
Ramp pesto, and Basil Ramp Pesto are delicious with so many foods; pesto is a great bread topper, makes an easy pasta sauce, goes well with potatoes, green beans, steak, chicken, and fish. Essentially, any food that goes well with garlic and lemon, this pesto will be great with. Pesto also makes a tasty snack, simply enjoyed with crudites, crostini, as a base for bruschetta, even as part of a cheese plate with crackers. I'd love to hear how you enjoy pesto, hopefully you'll try one, or both, of these versions soon!
Recipes make about 3/4 cup each, Ramp Pesto slightly adapted from Food52 Wild Ramp Pesto Recipe and Basil Ramp Pesto adapted from Cook's Country Magazine's June/July 2011, Classic Pesto recipe
Step 1: Gather Ingredients
For the ramp pesto:
1 bunch of ramps (my bunch was around 4 oz.), leaves and stalks separated
1/2 cup walnuts (toasted), chopped
1/3 cup olive oil (or 1/2 cup, you kind of have to eyeball it)
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
For the basil ramp pesto:
3-4 ramps, leaves and stalks separated
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cups fresh basil leaves
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice, or more, to taste
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Step 2: Make the Ramp Pesto
Optional step to help preserve the verdant color: blanch the ramp leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain immediately into an ice bath, it's easiest to use a spider to pull the leaves right out and into the ice water. Transfer to paper towels, or a clean dish towel and dry as well as you can.
Chop the ramps just a bit and put them in your food processor with the chopped walnuts. Zest half a lemon over the ramps and walnuts, then squeeze in the juice of the half. Add most of the cheese (if freezing it's best to leave the cheese out until serving) and a good dash of salt and pepper. Pouring the olive oil in slowly, process contents until they combine and are the consistency you prefer.Taste and adjust for seasoning.
Transfer to a bowl or container for storing.
Step 3: Make the Basil Ramp Pesto
Optional step to help preserve the verdant color: blanch the basil and ramp leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain immediately into an ice bath, it's easiest to use a spider to pull the basil and ramps right out and into the ice water. Transfer to paper towels, or a clean dish towel and dry as well as you can.
Process ramps, pine nuts, basil, Parmesan (it's best to leave the cheese out until serving if you want to freeze), lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in food processor until chunky, scraping down bowl as needed, drizzle in the oil and continue to process until desired consistency is reached. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer to a bowl for serving, or container for storing.
Step 4: Enjoy
If refrigerating, I like to leave the pesto at room temperature awhile to take the chill off before serving. Here, we enjoyed toasted Semolina bread with each pesto, alongside my Ramp Aglio e Olio
Ramp Pesto and Basil Ramp Pesto can be covered with 1 tablespoon oil and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Enjoy!