Wild Ramp Pesto is a delicious and versatile way to make the most of your foraging harvest. It’s quick to make and easily preserved by freezing.
Wild Ramp Pesto
There’s really no better feeling than a full foraging basket of garlicky wild ramps. These pungent wild edibles, also called wild leeks or wild garlic, are amazing in filled pastas such as this Tortellini with Stinging Nettle, Ramp Pesto, and Chicken. Experiment with your natural bounty by adding it to pastas, stews, sandwiches, dips, and this Ramp Pesto to soups such as this Creamy Homemade Tomato Soup.
Spring Ramp Foraging in North America
In North America Wild Leeks are one of the first Spring time wild edibles to emerge as the growing season begins. They are found in higher altitudes in Québec, Ontario, and even farther west in Alberta and British Columbia.
Their uniquely pungent, garlic flavour makes them quite popular with chefs and foragers alike. This popularity has also threatened their availability and they must be sustainably harvested so as not to decimate wild populations. If you are going to forage for ramps be sure to follow provincial regulations and mindfully harvest the wild leeks by:
- taking only a single leaf, leaving the other leaf and bulb intact; OR
- digging down carefully and cutting the bulb off at the roots, leaving the roots in the ground.
Versatile Pesto Made With Wild Leeks
Though the traditional pesto recipe (pesto alla genovese) is made primarily with fresh basil leaves you can substitute almost every kind of green in the recipe. I’ve made pesto out of dandelion greens, kale, Spring peas, beet tops, carrot tops, garlic scapes, and now wild leeks or ramps.
Experimenting with greens is all part of the fun but if you want to keep some of the traditional flavour alive, I suggest adding at least a handful of fresh basil leaves to your pesto.
How to Make Ramp Pesto
If you have whole ramps, begin by removing the bulb from the leaves (you can pickle the ramp bulbs later). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanche the ramp greens by adding them to the boiling water for a minute. Quickly remove them using a slotted spoon and shock them in a bowl of ice water. Drain and dry them.
To make the pesto: Chop the ramps in a food processor, then add the basil, pine nuts, cheese, lemon, garlic (if using). Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle in the olive oil as the food processor is running.
Using the Ramp Pesto to Add Flavour
Once the pesto is made, the possibilities are almost endless.
- Add wild ramp pesto to other ingredients to create a delicious tortellini filling such as I have in Tortellini with Stinging Nettle, Ramp Pesto, and Chicken.
- Boil up your favourite pasta al dente and add a spoonful of pesto for a quick lunch or dinner.
- Mix a spoonful into scrambled eggs, hummus, or avocado toast.
- Add a spoonful to soups, stews, and casseroles for that extra flavour boost or toss potato wedges in pesto and roast them for flavourful oven fries.
- Boost flavour in potato or macaroni salads.
How to Store Pesto
Most pesto recipes (mine included) make more than enough to use in a few different meals and luckily, it freezes really well. I like to freeze it in ice cube trays because that means it will be perfectly proportioned for future meals. If you prefer not to freeze it, cover the ramp pesto with a layer of olive oil and store in the fridge for up to a week.