I know that spring is truly underway by the lovely bundle of ramps that our friends pick upstate and bring back to us city folk. Last year, I waited too long to do anything more than saute the wilting ramps in some olive oil and eat them with eggs. Delicious, but a little boring and not quite what I had in mind. This year, I decided not to be so precious with them and followed Yolanda’s advice to use them in a recipe like I would use onion or garlic. I ended up making a ramp and asparagus risotto and a ramp pesto.
For the risotto: I chopped a handful of the bulbs, sauteed them in butter and then followed a basic risotto recipe (I used the one on the back of the box) and added some blanched asparagus spears to the mix. Once the risotto was finished, I threw a few chopped ramp stems on top for color. It was easy and delicious and it seems that ramps would work well in any number of risotto recipes.
For the pesto: I threw about 10 ramps–bulbs and stems, a handful of toasted walnuts, a few basil leaves that were a day away from funk (you don’t really need to add basil, the beauty of ramp pesto is that the ramp bulb can replace the garlic and the green stem the basil), the dregs of some grated pecorino and parmesan, a hearty pour of olive oil, and some salt into the food processor and pulsed the mixture until there were no big chunks, but still some texture. The flavor was delicious. My kids, who don’t like garlic, loved this pesto. The above steps ended up yielding a tremendous amount of pesto, so I put the leftover portion into ice cube trays and can’t wait to shock my dinner guests with a ramp pasta salad in July!