Wild Leek Pesto Recipe
14 APR 2022
You know it’s Spring when Wild Leeks start popping up as these are some of the first plants to appear.
A lot of chefs, foodies, foragers go crazy for this short-season vegetable. Also known as “ramps”, a cousin of onions, leeks, scallions, and shallots; they are available early spring. Native to Canada, they grow in low mountain altitudes to as far as South Carolina.
They look like scallions but have broad leaves and a purplish stem. This entire vegetable is edible, use them in any recipe calling for scallions or leeks. Cut off any hairy roots, peel off the first layer of leaves, and rinse or off any dirt on the bulbs.
Slice the ramps thin and use fresh in salads or sauté them with scrambled eggs or fried potatoes. Wild leeks can be enjoyed raw, pickled, or cooked. You can also grill or roast them—the stems, leaves, and bulbs are all good eats!
Specialty grocers and farmer markets may sell ramps when they are in season. They are normally sold in small bunches or priced per the pound. Pick ramps with vibrant dark green leaves (but not too dark).
You can harvest your own; ramps are so popular that foragers are over picking the plant in many areas. In Quebec, the plant is protected with harvest limits. They tend to grow in close groups with roots below the soil. A method is recommended by Indigenous peoples, where the plant root is cut with a sharp knife leaving roughly one-third of the bulb and the attached roots remaining in the ground. When done this way, the plant will grow back and keep producing.
Try this pesto recipe; it’s great for pasta, salad dressing, or just spread on toast! Enjoy!
Yield: about 2 cups
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts, or chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons grated parmesan
- 2 cups ramps, roughly chopped
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Using stand blender or food processor, blend all the ingredients until well combined or desired consistency.
- Check for seasoning and add as much or as little olive oil as you please.
- Can be stored in the fridge up to 3 weeks.