Ramp pesto is the most flavorful pesto you’ll ever taste! If you’re lucky enough to have access to ramps during their short spring season, you must pick up a bunch and make this recipe.
It’s the middle of May…do you know what that means?! Throughout the eastern US and Canada, and parts of the Midwest, it’s ramp season!
Ramp season? Wait a second here…
What are ramps?
If you aren’t familiar with ramps, they’re a type of wild onion with a tragically short season that typically only lasts through May, and sometimes early June if you’re lucky.
Ramps used to only grow in the wild, but farmers and home gardeners now plant and harvest ramps. Why? Well, they’re a TREAT to work with in the kitchen. Their flavor and freshness is unmatched by any other type of onion.
Even though I’ve had ramps several times at restaurants over the years, I never actually worked with them myself until I made my Simple Sea Salt and Lemon Grilled Ramps last year.
And for some of you, making this ramp pesto might be the first time you’re working with ramps. So for my new rampheads out there (not an actual word, but it could be), there are a few things you should know about them.
What does a ramp taste like?
Ramps taste like a cross between scallions (green onions) and garlic. Raw ramps have a robust flavor that epitomizes the allium family (garlic, onions, chives, shallots, leeks, etc). Cooked ramps are more mellow.
If you’re like me and love garlic and onions, you will like ramps. Trust me.
Where to Find and Buy Ramps
Ramps only grow in North America, and typically only in the eastern US and Canada. But they can also be grown in some areas of the Midwest. The ones that I picked up at our local co-op happened to be from Michigan.
If you live in one of the areas where ramps grow, you can likely find ramps at a local farmers market, co-op, or a grocery store like Whole Foods.
If you don’t live in one of these areas, you should still take your chances and check out a co-op or Whole Foods. Since ramps are a sought after ingredient in the spring, some stores may carry them even if they come from far away.
Ok, now let’s talk about the good stuff: this amazing recipe!!
How to Make Ramp Pesto
Since ramps have such a strong taste, you only need a few other ingredients for ramp pesto: freshly grated parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, and some type of nut or seed (in this case, cashews).
I wasn’t sure how the cashews would taste in the pesto, but they turned out to be an amazing addition. Their creamy texture and sweet taste is the perfect complement to ramps! And toasting them brings out even more of their flavors.
Once you have your ingredients, follow these simple steps:
- Clean the ramps and trim off the end of the roots. Be careful not to trim off a lot of the white part, because there’s a ton of flavor in there!
- Roughly chop the white and purple/red parts and the leaves.
- Toast the cashews in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant.
- Add the ramps and cashews to a food processor or high-powered blender like a Vitamix, along with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil.
- Blend it all up, and there you have it: a vibrant, delicious pesto!
Ways to Use Ramp Pesto
You can add this pesto to just about anything, but here are a few of my favorite ways to use it:
- Spread on pizza
- As a pasta sauce
- As a dipping sauce for raw vegetables
- Spread on toast with an egg on top
- Used in place of mayo or mustard on a sandwich
Can you freeze ramp pesto?
Sure can! If you can get a few bunches of ramps and double or triple this recipe, I’d recommend freezing half of what you make in a freezer-friendly container.
That way, you can extend ramp season and have ramp pesto on hand for future meals!
If you make this recipe, be sure to let me know in the comments below. And if you’re looking for another fresh vegetable condiment/sauce, check out my Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce with Fresh Herbs, Radish Green Pesto, Pickled Red Cabbage, and Hidden Veg Pasta Sauce.
Ramp Pesto with Toasted Cashews
- 1/2 cup cashews – raw
- 1 bunch ramps – white/pink parts and leaves roughly chopped, about 2 cups
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese – freshly grated
- 1/2 lemon – juiced
- 1/3 cup olive oil – plus more for drizzling
- Toast the cashews in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn them.
- While the cashews are toasting, wash the ramps and trim off the ends of the roots. Roughly chop the white and red/pink parts of the ramps and the ramp leaves.
- In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine the cashews, ramps, parmesan, lemon juice, and olive oil. Pulse or blend until smooth, about 60 seconds. Add more olive oil as needed to promote blending.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week, or in freezer-friendly containers in the freezer for later use. Enjoy on pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and more!
Enjoy ramp season!