With spring finally here, I feel awakened and ready to enjoy the sun, our glorious patios and of course, nature’s bounties that come with our farewell to old man winter. I haven’t had the opportunity to go to a farmer’s market until this past Saturday, when I joined Morgan at Wychwood Barns hoping to find my holy trinity of spring goodness: ramps (aka wild leeks), peas and asparagus. I didn’t see any of the latter two items but was content to bring home a bunch of ramps, along with these lovely sweet spring parsnips, selection of eggs including double yolk duck eggs and beef from Green Gate Farms.
Not in the mood to consume my wild leeks in a cooked manner, I decided to turn it into a pesto. With pine nuts in the freezer (storing nuts this way effectively delays their propensity to go rancid by months), lemons and parmigian in the fridge and my trusty olive oil it took a mere 5 minutes to transform this symbol of spring into a delicious and versatile pesto.
I added it immediately to a chicken salad sandwich and will be using it every which way I can for the rest of the week. You’ll notice in the recipe below that I only use about 1/4 cup of oil – I like my pestos to be very thick as I’d rather loosen them as needed when I actually use them. This way the flavour stays as concentrated as possible. I also decided not to add any garlic; the flavour of ramps can be quite intense and I found no need to further jeopardize my breath!
This should keep in your fridge for 1-2 weeks but it’s so delicious, I’m sure it won’t last very long.
Wild Leek/Ramp Pesto
Makes about 1 cup
1 bunch wild leeks/ramps (about 15-20 ramps)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
juice of 1 lemon, divided in half
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of salt
Trim and discard roots of ramps. Wash ramps well as they tend to be quite dirty. Let dry for a few minutes.
Roughly chop and place into bowl of food processor. Add pine nuts, cheese and half of the lemon juice. Pulse until a rough puree forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the processor on, slowly pour in the oil until a smooth puree forms. Taste and decide if you’d like to add the remaining lemon juice, either to thin down the consistency and/or to brighten the flavour. Add a pinch of salt, pulse to combine and taste. Season more to taste if desired.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. You can pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent the surface from oxidizing. Use in everything!