Make Ahead

Wild Ramp Pesto

April 30, 2010
8 Ratings
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

OK, this is basically just Ramp Pesto, but I think adding the "Wild" makes it sounds a little more exciting. You can add a number of other greens to this recipe... I've tried basil (which didn't really work, for me), parsley (which made it a little milder) and arugula (which had a real snappy, spicy flavor). My friend Lola threw in a little spinach, but she's always trying to one-up me. So this is just the basic recipe... customize as you see fit. Also, use whatever nut you prefer. Some people love pine nuts, I tend to favor walnuts. Isn't this a great country? - saenyc —saenyc

Test Kitchen Notes

Fiery and bright, saenyc's pesto surprised us in a couple of ways: it's creamier than we expected it to be, despite a relatively small amount of olive oil and parmesan, and it has a lovely mild sweetness from the combination of the tender ramp bulbs and the walnuts. We added a fair amount of salt to balance and heighten the other flavors, and the juice of half a lemon. Amanda folded the pesto into some spaghetti with bacon and peas for dinner, with very happy results. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 bunch of ramps
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (toasted)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (or 1/2 cup, you kind of have to eyeball it)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • a squirt of lemon
  1. Wash and cut off the leaves of the ramps.
  2. Optional step: blanche the ramp leaves in boiling water. Some say this makes the pesto more bright and vibrant. I think it's plenty beautiful either way.
  3. Chop the ramps and walnuts just a bit and put them in your food processor.
  4. Add most of the cheese (save a sprinkle for serving) and a good dash of salt and pepper.
  5. Pouring the olive oil in slowly, process contents until they combine and look, well... pesto-y.
  6. Taste for seasoning and add a good squirt of lemon.
  7. Use to top your favorite pasta, or grilled bread... and enjoy.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Darcie Sosa
    Darcie Sosa
  • cosull03
  • Karin Cecile Davidson
    Karin Cecile Davidson
  • Emilie Bash Romero
    Emilie Bash Romero
  • Phillippa Cannon
    Phillippa Cannon

58 Reviews

wewantspecifics May 8, 2022
I just made an account to say-- it is insanely frustrating to include such random measurements as "a bunch of ramps" in a recipe. The whole point of a recipe is to give specific proportions, is it not??? You might as well have said, a bunch of ramps, a handful of cheese, a little bit of nuts, just do whatever, doesn't matter! Come on people.
Darcie S. May 8, 2022
you made an account just to make this comment?? It's pesto. Chill out. Everyone calls it a bunch. I'm sure you'll figure it out.
wewantspecifics May 8, 2022
You made a comment just to say that? Pointless.
"A bunch" means nothing. That's not how recipes work.
Darcie S. May 8, 2022
it is how this one is. So you'll have to go cry about it somewhere else.
Rivzy May 26, 2022
A bunch of ramps is roughly 1/4lb. It's really not that difficult to use google. Please chill out, it is a recipe for pesto not the end of the world.
MountainMama December 29, 2022
Yes it is, especially when you have never made anything like this before. (Someone kindly posted the weight of their bunch in reponse to your frustration). I recommend tasting as you make it. I had never made any kind of pesto before making this totally delicious recipe. I did not know the size of a bunch of ramps. I wondered if you need about the same amount of ramps as you would basil leaves for pesto (you don't). So I googled traditional pesto recipes and the proportions were different than this recipe. I looked up where to buy ramps to see what size bunches were offered, even though I picked my own. I wanted it to come out just right. Afterall, I had gone into the woods and harvested the precious ramps myself. With my research, this recipe and my ramps, I tasted as I made it. If you are not comfortable with this approach, this might not be the recipe for you. But if you like pesto and have access to ramps, I would encourage you to try. Unlike baking, where exact measurements are key to success, you can adjust this according to your own taste preferences. I don't eat pine nuts, so I substituted walnuts. We could not keep our hands off this, it was so good.
darkleafygreens May 6, 2023
Actually, a bunch is generally the term for how ramps are sold.
I bought two bunches of ramps this morning.
It's far from a random term. But if it helps, a typical bunch is 8-10 ramps.
PawelyD April 22, 2024
I assume you get this often but why are you such a c*nt?

Not everyone has the same experience level in the kitchen and while some folks are fine winging measurements others prefer more exact instructions. Nothing wrong with either method if it works for you. Only thing wrong is your stank attitude.
Darcie S. May 5, 2022
Please don't harvest the bulbs. That's really irresponsible and unsustainable. Just cut the stems and use the leaves.
Jennifer P. April 23, 2023
LOL you’re calling people out about it asking for a recipe on a recipe page while simultaneously giving everyone unsolicited advice on how to forage their own damn land. Maybe YOU should go cry about it somewhere else.
Darcie S. April 23, 2023
lol. A year later to make this comment? Hobbies would probably do you well.
MountainMama May 31, 2020
This was the bomb. So delicious. We didn't have parm cheese on hand so substituted extra sharp cheddar. It was so delicious, could've just eaten it all by the spoonful.
cosull03 May 11, 2020
Classic. Smeared over toast for a bacon sandwich. I can’t wait to make this again!
Karin C. May 6, 2020
Loved this pesto! I did blanch the ramp leaves which really brightened them up. And added arugula. Served with a roasted lemon chicken. Beautiful!
cosull03 May 11, 2020
I’m with you on the arugula... just bought wasabi arugula seeds. Can’t wait to incorporate those!
agi April 27, 2020
The best ever! Took me all of 7 minutes to chop, measure, add ingredients and process. I had to stop myself from eating it then and there. Thank you!
Emilie B. April 26, 2020
Okay, I am actually using wild ramps, so, how many are in a bunch? Because someone always brings it up...Yes, I have thousands on my property, no I am not going to pick too many. I am one single person.

Mimi B. April 24, 2016
yes @kimmiebeck they say earlier that the bulbs go in. I am thinking that doing it with just the leaves (a much more sustainable way of using ramps) is going to be just fine too...a little less strong but still great. When ramp bulbs are harvested as well as the leaves that plant will never grow again...ever. With the frenzy of all things ramp at this time of year ethical foragers are pushing for less bulb harvesting and more just the harvesting of the leaves as that way the plant will regrow next make ramp pesto again!
kimmiebeck April 17, 2016
Once you cut off the leaves, what do you do with the bulb? Does it go in with the leaves?
cosull03 May 11, 2020
I wouldn’t, as the bulb is very oniony... check out “pickled ramps.” That’s an alternative to throwing out the bulb!
MountainMama May 31, 2020
I just used leaves as per recipe. No stems. We forage wild ramps, cut above ground, leaving bulbs in the ground for next years growth.
Phillippa C. July 14, 2014
I made this pesto in May when wild ramps were available at Chicago's Green City Market. It was great with pasta. I froze the extra pesto and used it last week in a plain yogurt, champagne vinegar and olive oil salad dressing over grilled romaine hearts. The yogurt tempered the assertive onion flavor of the ramp pesto and the creamy dressing was a lovely contrast with the sweet, but rather bland romaine.
SuperWittySmitty May 5, 2014
Are ramps really that easy to find? The farmer's market here in Queens isn't even open yet, and they are not to be found in either of the Korean produce markets in my neighborhood, and they're pretty well stocked. I'll keep looking, but I'm frustrated.
HockingHillsHeart April 12, 2013
Our instructor at Hocking College for the Edibles and Medicinal class had us collect ramps and make this today. It was delicious and was enjoyed with ramp crackers , also a first. So good i am looking up new recipes THANK YOU!
tota April 5, 2013
I have an abundance of wild arugula on hand, so am making this right now. Am thinking whole wheat pasta sounds pretty darn good with this for dinner tonight.
lschrive May 5, 2012
This is divine. I skipped the blanching step and all was fine - the taste was lovely. I was intrigued how the mellow walnut played against the spice of the ramp. The lemon is key. New favorite Spring recipe!
Westminstress April 23, 2012
I made this ramp pesto over the weekend and tossed it with whole wheat spaghetti (a good brand, not one that tastes like cardboard). I didn't bother blanching the leaves. Just delicious! Loved, loved, loved.
calendargirl May 24, 2011
This makes a lovely dressing for a warm potato salad (use baby Yukon Golds or fingerlings), no other seasoning needed.
joyfulleah May 1, 2011
Just made this with squid ink pasta and pork sausage! Absolutely divine with a side of grilled asparagus - great recipe!
epicureanodyssey February 9, 2011
Brilliant!! Am using this recipe for a South American Wine Dinner in March. Will be topping halved, roasted baby potatoes with the pesto. Thanks for sharing!!
peppermintpatty June 8, 2010
This looks so tasty! I did a slight variation but loved it anyway! What other nuts would you suggest, considering I'm not a huge fan on walnuts?
healthierkitchen May 16, 2010
Hi saenyc - how many ramps do think were in your "bunch". I was able to get two bunches yesterday, but each bunch is about four ramps. Is that about right?
healthierkitchen May 16, 2010
OK - I now see the earlier comment on bunch size. Obviously my bunches are tiny so I'll use both.