“Ramping” it up!


When my husband and I purchased our Door County, WI home over 10 years ago, we knew it was on a wonderful lot with trees galore.   What we didn’t know until spring was that the entire back yard was full of wild ramps.

With large green leaves resembling a large lily of the valley, these spring delicacies were used in my restaurant kitchen all during the spring season.  Now as a former restaurant owner, I needed to come up with some ideas to use up my more than ample supply of ramps.

The solution?   The two “P”s.   Pickling and pesto.

20140728_232327000_iOSFreeze pesto in ice cube trays for future use.   Above, beet, carrot, sun-dried tomato and ramp pesto.

What a great way to have ramps round.    I freeze the pesto in ice cube trays so I can use it throughout the year.   And the pickled ramps are a welcome addition to any salad bowl.



makes approximately one quart

2 tablespoons  kosher salt, plus more as needed, divided
2 lb. ramps, cleaned, green leaves trimmed to 1″ past white bulb (Keep the leaves for another purpose)
2 tablespoons salt (divided)
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
½ teaspoon caraway seed
½ teaspoon fennel seed
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 bay leaf

Bring a 4-quart sauce pot of water to a boil.   Add 1 tablespoon salt.  Add ramps and cook until crisp-tender, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, place in an ice bath. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.   Place in a sterilized 1-quart glass jar with airtight lid.

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon salt plus all remaining ingredients along with the  and 1 cup water in a 4-quart sauce pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Pour mixture over ramps.  Let cool to room temperature then seal jar and refrigerate.  The ramps can kept in the refrigerator for approximately 3 weeks. 

Alternately, the ramps can be canned in a canning water bath as you would any type of pickles or jams.

Arugula walnut pesto tossed in pasta

Ramp  Pesto
served to the left with pasta and toasted walnuts!

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (approximately)
1 1/4 cup thinly sliced ramp bulbs and slender stems plus three cups of thinly sliced green ramp tops
(Substitute 1 cup of arugula mixed with ¼ cup basil leaves if ramps not available)
1 cup grated or shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese
1/3 cup slivered almonds, walnuts or pecans
2 tablespoons fresh basil or tarragon
salt and white pepper to taste

To make the pesto
Blanch the ramps in just boiling water for 30 seconds.  Remove and shock with cold water and ice.   Squeeze to remove excess water.Transfer to a food processor.  Add the cheese, nuts, and tarragon or basil.   Process until finely chopped.    With machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil and puree until smooth.     

Season with salt and white pepper as needed.   Transfer pesto to a bowl.   Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.  If making for future use, freeze in ice cube trays.   Take out as needed throughout the year!

Make your own pasta!   Here’s a video on how to do it




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