Ramps & Kale Pesto
Before the ramps, or wild leeks, season comes to an end, we wanted to share this tasty pesto recipe. Made from ramps and kale, this easy pesto offers a delicious way to dress up quinoa, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, farro, or even a slice of toast. In addition to having a pleasant yet pungent garlicky flavor, ramps are loaded with vitamins A and C, as well the minerals selenium and chromium. Kale is an exceptional source of vitamins K, A, and C. It’s also rich in organosulfur compounds, which have been linked to cancer prevention. You might want to throw some toasted walnuts into the pesto, reinforcing it with nutritious omega-3 fatty acids.
Feel free to be creative with this recipe! You can add more or less olive oil (I tend to add less for a thicker, leafier pesto). You might also want to toss in some Parmesan cheese. You’ll note that I chose to blanch the ramps and kale before blending them into pesto. Blanching, a process that involves immersing the vegetables in boiling water for 30-60 seconds and then transferring them to an ice bath, offers some unique benefits. First, it stops enzyme action that causes loss of flavor, color, and texture. As a result, the pesto will keep its beautiful, vibrant green color for longer. Therefor, if you plan on freezing some of your pesto, I definitely advise blanching. This technique also further cleanses the ramps and kale of dirt and other organisms. As an expectant mother, this is very important for me.
* To learn more about ramps and where they come from, read this blog on foraging.
Ramps & Kale Pesto
- 1 bunch Fresh Ramps (you can use just the leaves or bulbs and leaves)
- 1 bunch Lacinato Kale (a.k.a. Tuscan or Dinosaur kale) or regular kale
- 1/3 or more cups Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Optional: 1 to 1 1/2 handfuls Walnuts
- Optional: Grated Parmesan Cheese to taste
- If you’re adding walnuts, toast them for just a few minutes in the oven at 350º or in a skillet over medium heat. The walnuts are done as soon as they begin to smell pleasantly fragrant.
- Rinse the kale and ramps well. Remove the thicker portion of the kale stems.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water.
- Place the ramps and kale in the boiling water. After 30-60 seconds, use tongs or a bamboo strainer to remove the leaves from the water. Immediately immerse them in the ice water bath for at least one minute. Remove and squeeze excess water out with your hands.
- Put the toasted walnuts and blanched ramps and kale in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 15-30 seconds. Then, add 1/3 cup of olive oil and continue to process. Add more olive oil until the desired texture is established. If you’re using Parmesan cheese, pulse it into the pesto now. Season with salt and pepper.
writing & photos by Sophie Slater