Ramp & Kale Pesto

Take advantage of ramp season while it lasts! These tender wild leeks are perfect in a pesto where their pungent, spicy flavor is mellowed with toasted walnuts, good extra virgin olive oil, and a tuscan kale. Savor them while you can because the season is a few short weeks. And say a big hello to spring -finally!- with these garlicky greens. I use the bulbs and the leaves because I can’t bear to waste a bit of these precious wild alliums. Bonus: ramps are loaded with phytonutrients. High in vitamins A and E, vitamins essential to healthy teeth, bones and skin, ramps are also rich in minerals, including manganese, iron and chromium. All of these vitamins and minerals contribute to a strong immune system. 

Serve this pesto with a heritage wheat or gluten-free pasta – spaghetti, linguine, cavatelli, orecchiette, or any pasta shape you really love, all work well with this pesto. Or over simply prepared tofu, fish, chicken, or meat, though I confess I enjoy them best in this pesto with whole wheat (Kamut or Einkorn) pasta and big green salad. I love a salad this time of year with spring radishes and baby lettuces (gem or butter are my favorites these days). And, to really gild the springtime lily, serve this dish with fresh asparagus lightly grilled dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Here’s a jubilant toast to spring! 

Ramp & Kale Pesto

Ramps - wild leeks with a wonderfully pungent garlicky taste - find their way into a truly delicious pesto.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Author Tania Van Pelt

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh ramps bulbs and leaves, about 20 ramps
  • 1 bunch Lacinato or Tuscan kale chopped
  • 1/3-1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup walnuts shelled, halved, toasted
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash ramps thoroughly. Like leeks they require a very thorough washing to get rid of dirt and grit.
  2. Blanch ramps for about 10 seconds in boiling water and then immediately dunk in an ice bath. Dry ramps thoroughly.
  3. Toast walnuts for a few minutes in the oven at 350ยบ or in a skillet over medium heat.
  4. Rinse the kale and remove the thicker, bottom portion of the kale stems. Coarsely chop kale.
  5. Put the toasted walnuts, blanched ramps, and chopped kale in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 30 seconds.
  6. Then, add 1/3 cup of olive oil and continue to process. Add more olive oil until the desired texture is established, basically until the mixture forms a creamy paste.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Transfer to a container. Use right away, refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.