Spring is most definitely in the air, and that means a lot of spring produce is starting to crop up at the farmer's markets. Rhubarb. Asparagus. Fiddle heads. And of course, ramps. Also known as wild leeks.
If you've never eaten ramps before, or even seen ramps, they look nothing like the "regular" leeks you would find in your typical produce store. The bottom of ramp stalks look much like a green onions, with reddish-purple stalk and broad leaves. The taste and smell is a cross between a garlic and an onion and very pungent.
With my bunch of ramps in hand, I decided to make a pesto with it. The ramps add such incredible flavour to the pesto without being too overpowering. Absolutely delicious tossed with some pasta of your choice with some spring asparagus and a little bacon for indulgence. Oh, and keep a pack of gum handy for afterwards!
Wild Leek Pesto
Makes about 1/2 cup
1 bunch ramps, about 10 to 12 stalks, washed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup blanched almonds, toasted
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until roughly ground. Add the ramps and lemon zest and pulse again until ramps have become pureed and the almonds have now turned to a fine ground.
With the food processor still running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue running for 15 to 20 seconds until the oil is well incorporated.
Pour the pesto into a bowl. Stir in the grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano and season to taste. Will keep in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to a week.