Ramps! Ramps! Ramps!

DSC_0825.JPGHooray, it’s finally ramp season. If you’re anything like me then this is one of the best times of the year – farmers markets all across the mid-atlantic will soon be loaded up with garlicky, onion, delicious ramps (wild leeks).

They are only in season a few weeks out of the year, typically from mid-April to mid-May, and are otherwise nearly impossible to find so when they’re around I always load up. If you’ve never had ramps before you simply must give them shot – think garlic mixed with green onion mixed with awesome. In our house we almost always use ramps to make pesto (recipe below) that way we can freeze some and then continue to enjoy them all summer long.

However, as it turns out there are all sorts of uses for ramps and in fact there are more than a few communities in West Virginia and Tennessee that throw annual ramp festivals where you can try a wide variety of ramp inspired dishes. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but below are a handful of the most famous events – including the Cosby County Ramp festival that President Harry Truman attended.

Truman Ramp Festival

Ramp Pesto Recipe: 

  • 4 bunches of ramp leaves.
  • 1 clove garlic (skip if you want a more mild pesto)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Cut the ramp leaves from the stems. Save the stems, there are plenty of other uses for them but for this recipe we will only be using the leaves.
  2. Ramps can be a little strong for some tastes if you use them raw in pesto. To help make the pesto a bit more mild, quickly blanche the ramp leaves in a pot of boiling salted water for 45 seconds – then transfer the leaves to a paper towel and dry.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly toast the pine nuts on a baking sheet for 5 mins.
  4. Transfer the blanched ramp leaves, toasted pine nuts, and garlic clove (if using) to a food processor. Turn on the processor and slowly add the olive oil until you reach desired consistency. If you like your pesto a bit thicker add slightly less oil.
  5. Once you reach desired consistency you can stir in parmesan cheese and then either serve or transfer to small dishes, put a little extra olive oil on top and freeze for use later.

We used our ramp pesto on this raviolo al uovo:

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