05/15/2014 02:15 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ramp Pesto

Viviane Bauquet Farre

Because ramps are only available for a few short weeks at the beginning of spring, you have to relish them while you can. Today, the dainty wild leeks find their way into a truly delicious pesto.

When consumed raw, ramps are just as pungent, spicy and overwhelming to the taste buds as raw garlic. But they become sweet and mild when cooked... so, to make this pesto, the ramps are sautéed in a bit of butter until wilted, then blended with the other ingredients. The pesto comes out creamy and delicately flavored -- nothing short of dreamy!

Serve this pesto with spaghettini or linguini fini; or with hand-shaped pastas like Trofie, Cavatelli or Orecchiette. It is also superb with these homemade gnocchi.

You can find ramps at your local farmers' market or online at Melissa's Produce.

Recipe: Cavatelli with fava beans and ramp pesto

Ramp Pesto

makes 3/4 cup
active time: 20 min

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 oz (170 g) ramps - root ends trimmed, stalks and leaves cut in 1/4″ slices (2 1/2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (use a microplane grater)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/3 cup finely grated Reggiano Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Heat a large heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat and add the butter. As soon as the butter has melted, add the ramps. Stir well and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the ramps are wilted and have turned a shade darker, stirring from time to time. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Place the sautéed ramps in the bowl of a food processor. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, salt and olive oil and process for about 1 to 2 minutes until the mixture forms a creamy paste, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. Transfer to a container. Use right away, refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.


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Now... how about making asparagus pesto?