Lemony Ramp Pesto




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Ramps, aka wild leaks, grow all-over Illinois and throughout the Midwest for a very short period of time in early spring. My son sustainably forages these beautiful, slender plants and blesses me with a bouquet of these garlicky gems. I have pickled them for the past couple of years and decided to try making pesto with this year’s bounty. The result produced a recipe for a fresh, garlicky and bright condiment that will complement almost every spring-time meal and of course is perfect on pasta too.⁠ Spread on bread and broil, or marinate fish or chicken to give it a nice zing.


• 1 bunch Ramps leaves, rinsed and dried
• 3 tablespoons pine nuts, walnuts or hulled sunflower seeds, optional
• Juice from 1/2 lemon or more to taste
• 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
• 1⁄3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese or Romano pecorino

Note: Garlic is not necessary in this recipe. The Ramps provide the garlic flavor.


1. Remove the leaves from the bulbs by cutting the leaves above where the bulb begins. Wash and dry the leaves.
2. Combine the Ramp leaves, nuts or sunflower seeds, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor or high speed blender and pulse to process for about 1 minute or until a paste forms.
3. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture is creamy. You may need to add more olive oil to get the mixture to the consistency you like.
4. Keep the machine running, add the cheese and process for about 5-10 seconds or until the cheese is mixed through.
5. Toss with your favorite pasta. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers.


Be sure to trim, wash and save the bulbs to pickle or sauté to use in another dish. See Pickled Ramps on this website

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