Creamy Ramp Pesto

Creamy Ramp Pesto Recipe

Winters in New York can be rough. It’s not just the biting cold, the lack of foliage and dirty snow turns the concrete jungle into a vapid expanse of grime. This bleakness projects itself upon everything from fashion to hospitality. But like a fleeting romance, spring transforms the city into something fresh and full of wonder.

The beautiful people cast aside their unflattering grey garb in favor of more revealing floral prints, verdant green shoots burst through the detritus of winter, and smiles bloom across the city like the tree blossoms overhead.

One of my favorite spring rituals from my time in New York was to hop on Metro North to a park along the Bronx River. Not one hour north of the city, the park hosts fields of ramps and fiddleheads, that to a chef, might as well be a field of gold.

Ramps

If the word “ramps” makes you think of the things you drive your car onto to change the oil, I can’t blame you. They’re all but unknown outside the Northeastern part of North America. A species of Allium, ramps have broad tender leaves and a small bulb near the roots. With a flavor that’s somewhere between leeks and garlic they’re delicious in just about anything you would use garlic in.

Because I’d never seen them in other places during my travels I assumed that ramps were a delicacy that could only be enjoyed during their brief season in the northeast. Imagine my surprise when I was shopping at my local supermarket in Sapporo, Japan when I came across a display of something that looked just like ramps being sold as “gyouja ninniku”.

As it turns out gyouja ninniku is a slightly different species (allium victorialis as opposed to allium tricoccum), but the similarity in flavor and appearance is striking and they can be prepared the same way. I’ve done a ramp pesto before, but this time, I wanted to do something creamy without the dairy.

Ramp Pesto

Raw cashew nuts have a neutral flavor and are sweet, creamy and packed with umami. This makes them the perfect dairy substitute, especially for cheese. While the cashews round off some of the harsh edges, there’s nothing subtle about this pesto. With a wild grassy flavor and an aggressive allium punch, it’s potent, and something you want to make sure every member of your household eats so don’t end up a pariah. If you’re not prepared for the intensity of raw ramps, just blanch them first lightly to make them milder.

Equipment you'll need:

Creamy Ramp Pesto
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Gloriously green and garlicky, this creamy ramp pesto uses raw cashews for body, richness and umami.
Creamy Ramp Pesto
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Gloriously green and garlicky, this creamy ramp pesto uses raw cashews for body, richness and umami.
Servings Prep Time
people 5minutes
Cook Time
8minutes
Servings Prep Time
people 5minutes
Cook Time
8minutes
Ingredients
  • 60 grams raw cashew nuts (about 1/3 cup)
  • 50 grams ramps
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 250 grams pasta
  • 100 grams snap peas
Units:
Instructions
  1. Put the cashews in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them rehydrate until the water has cooled.
  2. Put the cashews in the bowl of a small food processor along with the ramps, olive oil, salt and pepper. Process until smooth.
  3. Boil the pasta in well salted water for 1 minute less than what the package directions say.
  4. Add the snap peas to the water 1 minute before the pasta is done.
  5. Drain the pasta and peas, reserving some of the boiling liquid.
  6. Dump the pasta back into the pot and add the pesto, tossing to combine. Add the reserved boiling liquid as needed to keep the pasta from sticking together.

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  • Quevu

    Just a little south here in Muroran it’s sold as ”hitobiro”.
    Do you think this will work with suribachi? I don’t have a food processor.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Quevu, if you mince it first you should be able to do it in a suribachi, although your pestle will probably smell like garlic permanently. You could also just hand chop the ramps as finely as possible, and use the suribachi only for the cashews.

  • Anima

    Important thing about ramps Wikipedia says :

    “In Canada, ramps are considered rare delicacies. Since the growth of ramps is not as widespread as in Appalachia and because of destructive human practices, ramps are a threatened species in Quebec. Allium tricoccum is a protected species under Quebec legislation. A person may have ramps in his or her possession outside the plant’s natural environment, or may harvest it for the purposes of personal consumption in an annual quantity not exceeding 200 grams of any of its parts or a maximum of 50 bulbs or 50 plants, provided those activities do not take place in a park within the meaning of the National Parks Act. The protected status also prohibits any commercial transactions of ramps; this prevents restaurants from serving ramps as is done in the United States. Failure to comply with these laws is punishable by a fine.[21] However, the law does not always stop poachers, who find a ready market across the border in Ontario (especially in the Ottawa area), where ramps may be legally harvested and sold.[22]

    Ramps are considered a species of “special concern” for conservation in Maine, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.[23] They are also considered “commercially exploited” in Tennessee. Ramp festivals may encourage harvest in unsustainable quantities.”

  • missody

    I’m in Australia. Is there anything I can use as a substitute for ramps? Leeks perhaps or green onions?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Missody, if you’re near an asian market, garlic chives should work pretty well.

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!