I think I’m a little late with this post! I meant to share it about a month ago and apparently I had blog-amnesia, as I completely forgot to. So while this post is a little tardy, maybe it’s still worth putting out there.
There’s a mysterious vegetable in the US that gets the farmers market shoppers all riled up in April and May. It’s not asparagus (but talk about an amazing spring veggie), it’s ramps.
Ramps are, in effect, tiny wild onions. The UK equivalent of these lovely, fresh and slightly pungent greens are wild garlic. The main difference is that you can buy ramps with the bulbs still attached, while wild garlic will get to you as long, plain leaves that feel kind of silky.
It’s a super limited time veggie, and while it’s not the most amazing thing you’ll ever eat in your life (ramps OR wild garlic), it’s pretty darn good.
Not as strong as garlic on its own, but with a beautiful green color and a lovely, fresh flavor… there was really only one thing that I could do with my bounty. Turn it into pesto.
Pesto is absurdly easy, and it’s almost impossible to mess up the taste, since you can trial it along the way. You can make it from a variety of ingredients, and I’ve definitely had my fair share of pesto variations. I intend to share a few more pesto types that I make, with recipes and ideas on how to use them.
I also love that pesto is freezable. I’ve read recommendations that you freeze it without cheese, but I’ve never had a problem with the taste, as long as you use it within 3 months and you’ve sealed it well. Add a little bit of lemon juice to help it keep its vibrant green color (to help prevent oxidation). It’s spring in a plastic baggie.
Tip: Pulse, taste, tweak, pulse, taste, tweak … until you’re happy with the flavor.
On the Counter
100g (about 1/2 cup or 2 big handfuls) of wild garlic leaves, or ramps, roughly chopped
200ml (about 1 cup) extra virgin olive oil
50g (1/3 cup) pine nuts or walnuts
50g (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese (or Grana Padano), grated
1/2 tsp chilli (red pepper) flakes
salt to taste
What to Do
In a food processor, add the wild garlic leaves (or ramps) and nuts.
Pulse for about 5 seconds to combine.
Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, pulsing to combine. (If you can’t do this, just add 1/3 of the olive oil, pulse, another 1/3, pulse, and the rest.
Add in the parmesan and chili flakes and blitz to combine.
Taste, add salt if needed, briefly pulse.
I suggest that if you’re having it with pasta, try orichiette or shells for little pockets of garlicky pesto. You could also have it on a steak, mixed into mashed potatoes… or on anything you can dream up.