Ramping Up for Spring: Vegetable of the Month
After a cruel winter where we’ve eaten our weight in roasted root vegetables, we begin to count down the days until springtime produce. Ramps, a wild relative of leeks and shallots, are one of the first early spring crops to pop up, and as soon as the temperature starts to actually heat up, they’re already gone. With a short growing season, a high-price tag, and a deeply complex garlicky yet sweet flavor, it’s no wonder ramps have evoked frenzies at farmer’s markets and inspired entirely ramp-focused tasting menus. Ramps grow in forested areas of northeastern North America, as far north as Quebec, and as far south as Tennessee. If you reside in one of these shady, wooded areas, there’s a good chance you have ramps growing in your backyard! Forage them (which saves you the hefty price of around $20 per pound) or bite the bullet and buy some from your farmer’s market.
If you are lucky enough to get your hands on the elusive green, the possibilities are endless of what you can do! Sauté them, char them, pickle them, put them on your pizza, put them in your salad, or put them in your Sunday morning frittata. One of our favorite applications of ramps is to make a flavorful pesto.
Some tips for making the perfect ramp pesto:
- Blanch your ramps! Blanching your greens ensures that bright green color is maintained for more than one use
- Sauté your ramps to remove harshness and add sweetness
- Toast your pine nuts to achieve richer flavors
2-3 Handfuls of Ramps (about 2 Cups – greens & bulbs separate)
½ Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino (or a blend of the 2)
½ Cup Pine Nuts, Toasted (walnuts work too)
2 tbsp & ¼ Cup Olive Oil
1. Blanch ramp greens in salted boiling water for 15-30 seconds, until wilted. Have a bowl of ice water ready for the greens, then make sure to pat them dry.
2. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté sliced ramp bulbs until almost tender (about 4 minutes) and add ramp greens for 1 extra minute.
3. Puree ramp bulbs, greens, nuts, ¼ olive oil, and grated cheese in food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add more olive oil, a little bit at a time, until pesto reaches desired consistency.
Use with your favorite pasta dish, put it on pizza, or put some in the freezer for a later date!