Let me start by saying that I’ve wanted to cook with ramps for sooo long. I’ve seen a ton of awesome posts with great ramp dishes, and wanted to try them very much. Ramps are just baby leeks but they rock a combo oniony/garlicky taste, as well as a vibrant springy-ness that nothing else can really compare to. Their short growing season makes them pretty hard to find, so we went on an adventure this morning that led to us going to two farmers’ markets and Whole Foods to find all the ingredients for the dish that I invented for tonight. —Bethany Cornish Smith
I started by prepping the pesto because it can sit around for a while, whereas the other parts of the recipe are more time sensitive. To begin, wash and cut off the leaves of the ramps. Blanche the ramp leaves in boiling water, but leave the stems raw. Some people think that blanching the leaves makes them more bright and vibrant. I think it’s pretty great either way. Add the ramps, walnuts, basil and lemon (juice and zest) to the food processor and pulse them a few times before adding the cheese, salt, pepper and oil. I like to add the olive oil slowly until it looks, well… pesto-y.
The salmon should be the very last thing you cook, because overcooked fish sucks! Set a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. When the skillet is hot enough that a drop of water skitters on the surface (probably after about 3 minutes), add a tablespoon of olive oil. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom evenly and heat until the oil is almost smoking (about 30 seconds). Season the salmon with the salt and pepper and add to the skillet, skinned side down. Cook until you see that the fish is about 1/3 cooked from the bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn the salmon, lower the heat to medium and sear until you see that it cooked about 1/3 of the way again. PULL IT OFF IMEDIATELY and spread the pesto over top!