In the Ferioli household, it’s been all about ramps lately. We are eating them like they are going out of style….wait, they actually are! Ramps (also known as wild leeks, spring onion, wood leek, and wild garlic) only grow three weeks out of the year. We are lucky enough to live in New England where they do exist, and we know a secret place where the ramps grow like grass. Shhhhh……
There’s nothing like foraging for your own food. That connection, (especially for kids!) of searching, digging, touching, and finally cooking and eating, makes it all so nourishing and just a bit more fun.
The earlier you pick the ramps, the sweeter they are. They are delicious in pesto (recipe below), sautéed, or in soups. Ramps can be eaten in it’s entirety from it’s root (very similar to a leek root) to the leaf which is like spinach but a bit firmer, when cooked.
Over thirty years ago, when I was a wee child, my parents bought a “fixer-upper” that over they years they have turned into a beautiful home. It sits upon a few acres and is surrounded by cow pastures. I grew up with the cows and sheep as neighbors and my dog Zeb, as my playmate. We did have human neighbors as well, just not that many. One neighbor, an old man named Mr.Wood, took my father out for a man-to-man nature walk one day. It was then when he showed my father this place, this really magical, hidden place a couple miles behind our house. Bordering the mountains and a winding river, lies the ramp forest, quiet and still, untouched.
If you go ramp hunting, be sure to take a good swiss army knife, or something of the like as they need to be dug up from the roots. Clean them as soon as possible and wrap in a moist paper towel. They will keep in your fridge for at least 10 days that way. You can also freeze ramps too for the days in the winter when we are begging for a bit of spring. If you are looking to freeze ramps, simply chop the whites and place in a freezer bag. The greens of the ramps needs to be blanched first before freezing.
This ramp pesto is very simple but so deliciously rich and powerful. I first made a vegan version of this, and I personally loved it’s pungency (have I mentioned I love garlic?) but being a relative to garlic it perhaps was a bit too strong, said the jury. The parmigiano really mellows out the garlicky-ness and leaves us with a milder version. I used the whole ramp, just cleaned, chopped, and tossed into the blender. The ramps are so vividly fresh it doesn’t need much tampering with! I’ve made this with sunflower seeds, toasted almonds and walnuts so feel free to substitute with whatever you have on hand.
- 20 whole ramps, roughly chopped.
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup walnuts
- 3 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1/2 cup parmigiano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients in blender, and blend until desired consistency.
- Use more oil if necessary to smooth.
- I used young ramps, which are smaller. If you have bigger ramps, use a few less.
- Substitute walnuts for your favorite nut or seed.