This charred ramp pesto recipe is easy to make in a food processor. It takes five minutes to blend and will last for months in the freezer.
I love foraging wild edible plants in the spring and ramps are one of my favourite.
Scientists call them allium tricoccum. In North America they’re also known as wild leeks or wild garlic. And around the world they are often called wild spring onions, ramson or wood leeks.
Whatever you call them, these wild plants are a delicious start to spring.
Although I don’t look forward to cleaning the ramp bulbs and leaves. They can have so much dirt that a 20 pound haul of ramps is only 14 pounds once cleaned.
Yes you really can forage six pounds of dirt with us but I guess that’s tough part of the foraging process.
The fun part is deciding what to make with it and I love charred ramp pesto.
Wait Pesto Without Basil?
Most people are familiar with pesto Genovese, a traditional Italian condiment using basil from Genoa a city in northern Italy. Traditional pesto recipes are a basic mix of basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan.
The name “pesto” is a generic term. Just like salsa (sauce) and curry (spice blend) and comes from the Italian verb pestâ, which means to crush.
Traditionally pesto is made with a mortar and pestle in a circular motion. It can be an intense preparation that I attempted once by hand but now I just make it in a food processor.
Pesto took North America by storm in the 1980s and 90s when we were eating it on everything from pasta to rice.
And when people grew tired of basil pesto sun-dried tomato pesto became the hot new ingredient. I’m sure Italians across the pond were gagging with distaste when they learned of this.
But pesto is a really versatile sauce, you can substitute for whatever nuts you have on hand and most hard cheeses like pecorino or aged cheddar.
Vegans need not fear that they’ll miss out on the pesto train as they can substitute nutritional yeast for the cheese.
Charred Ramp Pesto Recipe
This charred ramp pesto recipe excludes garlic, which is traditionally in pesto, as the ramps have such a great flavour.
Charring the ramp leaves brings out the intensity in flavour. Don’t be afraid of using a kitchen blow torch. Although they were once only in chef’s kitchens they are now mainstream. This one is only $20 and is perfect of first-timers.
With any recipe that only includes a few ingredients you must ensure to use quality products. This is not the time to bust out your iodized salt – instead use good sea salt. I love this light grey sea salt for everyday use, I put it on everything.
The same is true for the olive oil. The recipe calls for nearly one cup olive oil so use the best you have as it makes all the difference in the final product.
Can You Freeze Pesto?
Absolutely, it freezes brilliantly.
If you make a lot of pesto and want to freeze some of it simply top a freezer-safe container with a layer of olive oil. Unlike canola oil or grapeseed oil, olive oil isn’t a winterized oil, which means it will congeal in the fridge or freezer.
While this may seem like a negative aspect in most cases, olive oil is perfect for preserving foods in the freezer. The congealed oil creates an air-tight surface and protect the charred ramp pesto in the freezer.
How to Use Ramp Pesto
So many people make ramp pesto, or any kind of pesto, and then have no clue what to do with it. But it’s really so versatile:
- Replacing tomato sauce on a ramp pesto pizza
- Mixed with a bit of olive oil to finish off roasted potatoes
- A spoonful added at the end of a minestrone soup
- Vibrant green pesto pasta
- Blended with butter to make a flavoured whipped butter
- Combined with white wine vinegar to make a dressing
- Add to yogurt and marinate chicken skewers