Take your pesto to the next level with wild ramps and pecans!
Pesto is one of the easiest ways to elevate a bland bowl of pasta. Take some basil, throw in some garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and salt, then chop in a food processor until it becomes a coarse paste. Toss it with some pasta and cheese, and you have the start a great meal.
You can add variety to your pesto by substituting spinach or arugula for basil. Additionally, people with allergies to certain nuts can substitute any tree nut for the pine nuts.
Pine nuts have a great flavor, but they can be a little pricey. I regularly use pecans or walnuts in my fresh pesto. Use whatever is abundant and in season in your area!
Wild ramps are another great substitute for basil. Their flavor is a combination of garlic and onion, and you can use them wherever you would use scallions or green onions. When making pesto, be sure to blanch the greens first. Blanching kills the enzymes that would otherwise cause your pesto to turn brown.
Ramps are in season right now, but they’ll only be around for a few weeks. If they don’t grow wild in your area, check your local farmer’s market or grocery store.
Here is a quick and easy pesto recipe using wild ramps and pecans.
- 4 ounces ramps
- ¼ cup pecans
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Coarsely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
- Thoroughly clean the ramps with water and separate the greens
- Blanch ramp greens in a large pot of boiling, salted water until wilted, about 10 seconds
- Transfer the greens to a bowl of ice water with a slotted spoon; drain and squeeze out liquid
- Add pecans and ramp bulbs and stalks to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped
- Add ramp greens and olive oil and process to a coarse paste
- Season with salt
If you’re going to immediately serve your pesto, stir in a handful of coarsely grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, toss it with your cooked pasta, and top with more cheese.
You can easily freeze your pesto for up to three months in an airtight container. However, do NOT add the cheese if you are going to freeze it. Just drizzle a little olive oil on top, cover, and freeze.
Recipe adapted from Bon Apetit