Pesto is one of those things that you can make with just about anything green. Wild weed pestos can be made with just about any green that has enough flavor to give a pesto character. Ramp pesto uses flavorful ramp greens to make a spicy, garlicky pesto to get you moving in the spring.
Start with the basics. A good quality olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan cheese.
If you really want to up the ante on the wild foraged nature of this pesto, substitute another nut you’ve gathered. Pine nuts are mostly a west coast thing in the US, while ramps are an East coast native. In Vermont, we have a nut called a Butternut that looks like a walnut, but it doesn’t have the bitter tannin flavor. It tastes a lot like a pine nut, and it’s a good choice for foraged pesto.
The garlic in this recipe is optional, and it gives the finished pesto extra heat. If you prefer a milder pesto, skip the garlic.
The process for pesto is pretty darn easy these days since food processors are common in just about every kitchen. Before food processors, hand chopping and grinding made pesto a bit more of an ordeal. Simply toss all your ingredients in the food processor and pulse until it’s ready. If it sticks, take the lid off and give it a stir or give it an extra dash of olive oil, then pulse again.
Fresh pesto with all raw ingredients will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks. If you want to extend the shelf life and keep it from browning, blanch the ramp leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds before putting them into the food processor. That destroys the enzymes that will cause browning. I never have a problem using pesto up in a few weeks, more often it doesn’t make it a few days, so I don’t bother blanching anything.
This recipe just uses the greens, so reserve the ramp bulbs for another recipe, like these pickled ramps.
- 2 cups ramp greens
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese grated
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or other mild oily nut
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 bulb garlic peeled
- 1/2 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
Remove the ramp greens from the ramps, reserving the bulbs for another recipe.
Add all ingredients (except salt) to the food processor and pulse until blended.
Adjust salt to taste. Depending on how salty your cheese is, the final pesto may not need any salt. I added 1/2 teaspoon to mine and it was just right to my taste.
Other Wild Foraged Pesto Recipes
Wild Weeds Pesto from Nitty Gritty Life – Using chickweed, dead nettle, sorrel, purslane and others.
Wild Pesto from Eat Weeds – Using wild garlic, nettle and bittercress.
Chickweed Pesto from Grow Forage Cook Ferment
Spring Pesto from Homestead Honey with Chickweed and Green Garlic