Wild Ramp Pesto

I got some much needed rest this weekend, although I feel like I’m still a bit under the weather. It seems as though I’ve been sick for two or three weeks now, but Kramer hasn’t caught anything, so I guess it must just be allergies. I’m new to the whole allergy game – do they last this long? Either way, what can you do? Friday night, Kramer and I stayed close to home. We had a drink at a bar around the corner from us (The Tradesman), then headed home to continue watching Shameless, which we are halfway through the first season of and absolutely adore – Emmy Rossum is incredible in it, and so is William H. Macy, as always. Saturday morning, we got up early, made some breakfast, then headed out to see The Avengers. It killed at the box office this weekend (All previous records broken! The Avengers 2, 3, and 4 already green lit! Pigs can fly!), and I can definitely see why. I was sort of bored for the first half, to be honest, but the second half was packed with non-stop superhero fighting action, so what’s not to love about that? I think the ending was a solid 30-minute action sequence, and add that to a bunch of great Tony Stark zingers, and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed hit. I’m still much more eager to see all of the other summer blockbusters, though, like Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises. I have a feeling TDKR will give that $200mm Avengers opening weekend a run for its money. After the movie, we met up with Kramer’s sister Rachel for cheap tacos and sangria at The Saint Austere near our apartment, followed by some fries and margaritas (those go together, right?) at Burnside Brooklyn – that section of Grand in Williamsburg is just crawling with fantastic bars, so they were all doing a little something for “Cinco de Derby”. Full and happy, we wandered over to our friend Lindsey’s apartment for a get together to celebrate her and her boyfriend’s move to the neighborhood. On Sunday, it was another early rise for us as we headed out to Kramer’s boss’s new apartment for our second housewarming party of the weekend, where we had perfectly chewy bagels (with lox, of course) and plenty of mimosas. We wandered around the Upper West Side for a bit, then headed home to watch the most recent Saturday Night Live (Eli Manning was fantastic, believe it or not) and eat banh mi from a spot near us called Nam Nam that we hadn’t tried since living in the neighborhood, but will definitely be ordering from often because the sandwiches were really good, as was the bubble tea.

I made this pesto last weekend, but I just took the photos off my camera this past weekend. We ate this pesto with everything – chicken, on sandwiches, salads…the possibilities are endless and always delicious. Ramps are only available in the spring, so they are a ~hot~ item among people who concern themselves with that sort of thing, and to be honest, they are a bit over-hyped. They do have a distinct flavor, in that they are not quite as strong as garlic, but more savory and flavorful than spring onions. I think that they are just highly valued because new and/or rare ingredients are always fun to play with, so when something is only available for a limited time, of course the prices will be inflated and people won’t be able to shut up about whatever happens to be the item of the week. Since ramp fever has started to wind down, I was able to score a bunch of them for $4, which is a deal considering I have seen them for for $8 or $9 a bunch, which is insanity. Seeing as how they are so “special”, I wanted to try to do something with them that really showed off their unique qualities. I figured a pesto would be the best way to go, as you can put it on anything and it not only enhances whatever you’re eating, but it’s also got great flavors on its own. Full disclosure: I even used this pesto as a spread for some crackers. Before ramps are completely gone in 2012, seek them out and make this pesto – it’ll certainly put you in the spirit of spring.

Wild Ramp Pesto
Your ingredients.

Wild Ramp Pesto
Clean your ramps by gently rubbing the dirt off of them in a bowl of cold water, then pat dry.

Wild Ramp Pesto
Then slice them very thinly.

Wild Ramp Pesto
Brown the sliced ramps in a bit of butter, just for a few minutes, to release their maximum amount of flavor.

Wild Ramp Pesto Wild Ramp Pesto

Allow the ramps to cool to room temperature, then combine them with the pine nuts and Parmesan and chop away.

Wild Ramp Pesto
Just keep going until everything is finely minced and about the same size.

Wild Ramp Pesto
Add some olive oil and stir with a fork, them form into a ball and set aside or refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

Wild Ramp Pesto

Wild Ramp Pesto
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 cup
  • 1 bunch wild ramps, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  1. First, clean your ramps. It is best to place them in a large bowl of cold water and rub off any bits of dirt. Change the water once or twice if you need to while you clean the ramps - it's best to do it this way, as they are delicate and you want to preserve as much of their flavor as possible. Dry the ramps and slice them very thinly.
  2. In a medium sized pan, melt your butter and add in the ramps. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until just slightly wilted and browned. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Grate your cheese and combine it with your pine nuts on a large cutting board. Add in the room temperature ramps and use a very sharp knife to chop everything together, scraping together and chopping again, until the pesto is very fine and sticks together in a ball when you mold it together with your hands. Place the pesto in a bowl and pour the olive oil over it, mixing it together with a fork. Taste and add some fresh black pepper (and salt, if you think it's necessary, but I didn't add any). This pesto will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days - add more olive oil as you need it, as it may dry out a bit in the fridge. Serve on sandwiches, pasta, salads, meatballs, chicken...the possibilities are endless!

14 Responses

  1. Kim says:

    Hum… I had no idea you had to roast ramps for pesto. Is that the same for other pestos? I will admit that I’m lazy and always buy the jarred version. We’ve never had enough basil in our “garden” for anything more than caprese salads. This year we actually planted them in the ground so hopefully they’ll do better.

    • Sydney says:

      You definitely don’t need to roast basil or other herbs for pesto, but I felt that it mellowed the flavor a bit and added some depth. Good luck with your basil plant! I need to stop being so lazy and get something like that started myself.

  2. Ben says:

    Woo! I made ramp pesto also last night! Slightly different recipe but oh so good. (mine had caramelized shallot and lemon as well). I’ve also been absolutely hooked on the Babbo spaghetti with ramps recipe.

    I think you said you live out in Queens, but you might want to check out Mountain Sweet Berry in the Union Square Greenmarket if you find yourself in the city. They seem to be one of the most popular ramp sellers – they are out by 10:30 the last 2 Saturdays (they are also there on Wednesdays if you want to take a *cough*extended lunch). In my opinion, their bunches have the best combination of value and flavor. The bunch I cut up last night had 30-35 ramps and they charge $3 each. Everyone else in the market charges the same but offers smaller bunches or the flavor just isn’t as strong.

    Yay for ramp season!

  3. Rachael says:

    Yay another pesto recipe (I am going to be making my 3rd batch of traditional pesto this week)
    Just wanted to leave a note about your allergies. I know a good half dozen people who developed allergies once they moved to NYC due to its pollution. They never had a problem again once they moved away from it. Not very hopeful news but I did want to share that you are not alone and it’s more than just Mother Nature for some people.

  4. Debra says:

    Pesto is one of my favorite things–can’t wait to try this one!

  5. Ben says:

    @Rachael – It actually may not be pollution. Ever since I moved here, I have always been surprised at not seeing NYC in any top 10/top 20 most polluted cities-type reports. Apparently, the problem is that some genius decided way back when to only plant male trees because the female ones bear fruit and mess up streets, so basically, it’s a bunch of pollen with nowhere to go but on allergy sufferers.

  6. Anthony says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen ramps for sale here in LA. Are they an Eastern half of the US product?

    Pine nuts can get pricey, but I’ve found unsalted pistachios are also good in pesto, and a lot cheaper. :)

    • Sydney says:

      I think they might be more popular out here; I’d never heard of them when I lived in Phoenix, but I mean, I hadn’t heard of a lot of things in Phoenix, hah. I have a co-worker who said that they foraged for them in Wisconsin, but it’s so green out there that you can probably forage for just about anything.

      My bodega sells pine nuts for $6 a pack! I don’t know how that happened, but I am really lucky. I love the idea of using pistachios, though, and I like the taste of them more than pine nuts, so I think I’ll go for that next time.

  7. Okay I need to find some ramps ASAP! I don’t think I’ve ever even seen them around in stores. But when in doubt, I shall head to Whole Foods!

  8. Megan says:

    I’ve never tried ramps, but this makes me want to really bad. This looks super delicious.

  9. I’m seeing Avengers Friday, can’t wait. Like you I’m also psyched to see Prometheus (trailers look awesome) and TDKR. Going to be a good movie summer!

  10. Joan says:

    Yes, ramps are East coast and coming towards the end of their season. Can also recommend the “Lucky Dog” organic farm stand at Ft. Green market on Saturday and Union Square market on Friday.

    This pesto recipe looks delicious – thanks.

  11. […] you can add it to a number of different dishes instead of just eating it one way. Last year I did ramp pesto, which I put on everything from salads to sandwiches, so I wanted to go the other way this year and […]

  12. […] as it cooks, while the interior is still moist and flavorful. I served this up with some of my wild ramp pesto and a side of broccoli rabe, but as ramps aren’t quite in season anymore, a classic pesto […]

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