For months, I have been anticipating the return of the Farmers at the Firehouse, as well as the fresh, seasonal produce at the Pittsburgh Public Market. I love warm and hearty winter foods, but by now I am more than ready for local asparagus, lettuce, and peaches! The Farmers at the Firehouse returns tomorrow, but I just couldn’t wait to share a super-springtime recipe with you… I jumped the gun and headed to the Pittsburgh Public Market last weekend in hopes of finding a vendor selling some early-springtime treats. Thankfully, Mushrooms for Life granted my wish, selling fresh ramps and morel mushrooms. (The morels will be featured in an upcoming post – stay tuned!) They will be at the Farmers at the Firehouse this weekend selling more of their tasty treats.
Also sometimes called spring onions, wild leeks, wood leeks, or wild garlic – ramps are foraged in the early springtime and have a particularly spicy, garlicky flavor which I thought would be fantastic in a pesto. I’ve found pesto to be a very easy and versatile sauce to make: The basic ingredients I include in any pesto are herbs, nuts, hard cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. You can use this recipe as a basis for your own unique variations using other herbs, nuts, and cheeses.
This recipe will create about one generous cup of pesto.
1 bunch (about 12) ramps
1 handful fresh parsley
1 handful of almonds
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more if needed
1. Be sure to thoroughly wash the ramps. Trim of the stringy roots. Also trim off the white bulbs and save them for another use. (You can pickle them, chop them up and use them in a stir fry, roast them and toss them with other veggies or pasta.)
2. Toast the almonds in a small pan, being careful not to burn them. Let them cool before placing them in the food processor with the other ingredients.
3. If all of your ingredients don’t fit into your food processor at once, you can puree them in steps, as shown in these photos.
4. You can use this pesto in pasta, on chicken or fish, add it to soup, or spread it on toasted bread. If you do decide to use it as a spread, I would quickly blanch the ramp leaves at the beginning before pureeing them, or the onion-y flavor might be a tad overpowering.
Click here to download a printable PDF of this recipe.