Wild Ramp Pesto

April 30, 2010

Test Kitchen-Approved

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? - saenycsaenyc

Food52 Review: 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&MThe Editors

Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 10 min


  • 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
In This Recipe


  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.

More Great Recipes:
Condiment/Spread|Vegetable|Walnut|Pesto|Ramps|Make Ahead|Spring|Gluten-Free|Vegetarian|Side

Reviews (39) Questions (0)

39 Reviews

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 year...to 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?
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.
sugarjunkie May 14, 2010
I'm intrigued and looking forward to making this. Sounds perfect for spring/summertime.
littleclove May 13, 2010
I made this tonight and it's really really YUMMY! I alterd 2 things...I used Pecorino Romano cheese instead of Parm because that is my fav and it's all I had, and I used pine nuts instead of walnuts (all I had). I added it to some homemade pasta and it was amazing.

I had just gotten some ramps in my organic produce delivery box and had no idea (1) what they were and (2) what to do with them.

This turned out to be a VERY tasty dinner thanks to you...and my ramps. THANKS!
Author Comment
saenyc May 14, 2010
The variations are endless! So glad you liked it!
GoodFoodie May 13, 2010
Not familiar with ramps but just bought 2 bunches. Does anyone know if a "bunch" is a standard size? Is there an approx weight for a "bunch"? Thanks!
Author Comment
saenyc May 13, 2010
I've bought them from a number of farmers' markets this spring, and all the "bunches" seem pretty comparable.... off the top of my head, I think they usually have about 10 bulbs per bunch?
Midge May 13, 2010
Congrats! I made this for dinner last night and tossed w/ pasta and a little bacon (thanks Amanda..) Over-the-top tasty.
Author Comment
saenyc May 13, 2010
Thanks, I've added the bacon as well, and to me it's takes it to the next level. Although bacon pretty much takes anything to the next level!
Denise May 12, 2010
ornithophagus May 12, 2010
Made this over the weekend, very enjoyable. I mis-read the recipe though. When the directions said to blanch *only* the leaves, I thought it implied to toss the bulbs. Of course I didn't toss the bulbs, but pickled them separately. That the entire ramp should be used raw should be stated more explicitly.

So, my pesto itself only had the leaves. It was good, but not very spicy. I liked the idea enough (basil is such a high summer thing, it's fun to have an early spring alternative) that I know it will be terrific with the bulbs in too.
Author Comment
saenyc May 12, 2010
Glad you enjoyed it, and I agree, the recipe was a little unclear. Adding the bulbs definitely kick up the spicy level and make for a more memorable and flavorable dish.
Lili E. May 10, 2010
This sounds delicious.