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Ramp Pesto Spaghetti

Ramp Pesto Spaghetti

Garlicky, pungent ramps set off pesto pyrotechnics.


  • 4 ounces ramps, greens separated
  • 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino, plus more for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Recipe Preparation

  • Blanch ramp greens in a large pot of boiling salted water until wilted, about 10 seconds. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer greens to a bowl of ice water; drain and squeeze out liquid.

  • Bring same water in pot to a boil again and cook spaghetti, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

  • Meanwhile, coarsely chop ramp bulbs and stalks (save or pickle the rest) and walnuts in a food processor.

  • Add ramp greens, olive oil, and 2 Tbsp. Pecorino; process to a coarse paste. Season with salt.

  • Toss spaghetti and ½ cup cooking liquid with pesto, adding more cooking liquid as needed until pesto coats pasta. Serve topped with more Pecorino and with lemon wedges.

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 550 Fat (g) 25 Saturated Fat (g) 3.5 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Carbohydrates (g) 70 Dietary Fiber (g) 3 Total Sugars (g) 4 Protein (g) 12 Sodium (mg) 65Reviews SectionWow, this is wonderful! I doubled the recipe for the pesto and froze the extra in an ice cube tray. Now we can enjoy Ramp Pesto Spaghetti tonight and again in the future. Thank you for another delicious recipe.Oh my goodness this was soooooo good. My husband and 3 kids devoured it. Pity we only get ramps once a year from our CSA!

Ramp Pesto Spaghetti - Recipes

When I wrote about my wild garlic soup two weeks ago, a couple of the more attentive followers of eat in my kitchen told me that “ramp” is the more common name for my beloved “wild garlic”. I’m happy they let me know and to avoid confusion I will change its name in my recipes to “ramp”. “Wild garlic” has a bit of an adventurous touch, I like that, it fits to its distinct taste but if only a few know it as such then I have to compromise.

At the moment, this plant is at its seasonal peak. The long leaves cover the moist ground in the forests, filling the air with their beautiful smell of fresh green onions. When I go to the market, I buy ramp in bulk as I’m a bit obsessed with it. I even start my shopping earlier in the morning just to make sure that I get enough of the little bunches for all the recipes I have in mind. The recipe I make the most (at least once a week) is a pesto, spicy and very strong in taste, great with pasta or spread on toasted dark bread which is an absolutely delicious snack! In the fridge, it stays fresh for a few days so I always prepare a big bowl.

For my pesto, I use the leaves of 2 bunches of ramp (around 90g / 3 ounces), rinsed and dried well, and mix them in a blender with 110ml of olive oil, 50g / 2 ounces of parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. You could add some pine nuts but I find them too weak to come through, I prefer to concentrate on the ramp and the cheese. When we eat the pesto with spaghetti or linguine I add some crushed pepper and more grated parmesan on the warm pasta.

Tomorrow I will write about a burger which didn’t manage to escape my ramp obsession!

When consumed raw, ramps are just as pungent, spicy and overwhelming to the taste buds as raw garlic. But they become sweet and mild when cooked… so, to make this pesto, the ramps are sautéed in a bit of butter until wilted, then blended with the other ingredients. The pesto comes out creamy and delicately flavored – nothing short of dreamy!

Serve this pesto with spaghettini or linguini fini or with hand-shaped pastas like Trofie, Cavatelli or Orecchiette.

Two mouthwatering recipes with ramp pesto

You can find ramps at your local farmers’ market or online at Melissa’s Produce.

Wild Ramps Pesto Recipe

Ramp season is here! Ramps are one of the first wild greens to emerge. This springtime native is famous for its restorative qualities after a long winter. And where there are ramps, there’s a Wild Ramps Pesto recipe to be made!

What are Ramps?

What are ramps? As in the inclined walkway? No, no.

Ramps are a green plant in the onion family they’ve also been called wild leeks, wild garlic, wood leeks, and ramsons. Scientifically, they’re known as Allium tricoccum. With a small, white bulb and hairy root, they resemble scallions and are foraged from shady, woody areas just a few weeks from late April to early June. They are one of the earliest wild edibles to emerge and were traditionally a spring tonic. Early settlers relied on their restorative qualities after long, hungry winters.

Ramps appear for a fleeting moment at farmers’ markets, adventurous grocery stores, and high-end markets in early spring. And these stores charge quite a lot to truck limp wild ramps to their aisles! It’s rather ironic considering the people of the Appalachian mountains and Native Americans have harvested wild ramps for free for generations.

Where Do Ramps Grow?

Ramps grow in shady, woody, moist areas. They’re native to mountainous forests in the eastern North America—as far north as Canada and as far south as North Carolina and as far west as Missouri.

Around mid-April to early May, take a walk through any shady hardwood forest. This is when ramps have their brief season of glory as they’ll die off once the tree canopies leaf out. Look in the shady patches in low-lying areas (not swamps). They’re not that hard to find nor I.D. if you know where to go.

A ramp has 2 to 3 beautifully green, smooth, broad leaves per stem. (See below.) They do have a poisonous look-a-like: Lily of the Valley. However, ramp leaves are thin and papery while Lily of the Valley leaves are thicker and more rubbery. The real and obvious difference, however, is the smell. Ramps have a strong oniony smell. If you break off a leaf, you can not mistake that pungent onion and garlic scent.

Harvesting Ramps

If you are harvesting your own ramps, do so sustainably: Ramps should be cut leaving the bulb in the ground to regrow.This is how the Native Americans harvested (and still do).

  • To harvest ramps, just loosen the soil with a trowel and pull back the dirt from the bulb.
  • Cut off the bottom of the bulb with a sharp pocket knife while it’s still in the ground.
  • If you only want the leaves, then cut only one leaf from each ramp and leave the bulb with a second leaf to keep growing.
  • Then re-cover the roots with dirt and leave them to grow next year.

Please do NOT just tear the roots out of the ground. In many areas, ramps are being threatened and over-foraged for restaurants,

What Do Ramps Taste Like?

The flavor of ramps is unique and hard to describe the closest we can come is a pungent mix of onion and garlic.

Use ramps in recipes as you would onions or garlic: in eggs, potatoes, vegetable stir-fries, etc. Just keep in mind that ramps are more potent!

Ramps are amazing in pasta! To make an easy spaghetti dish, just cook up the ramp bulbs (thinly sliced) in a skillet with a few teaspoons of butter and olive oil. Tear up a couple cups of ramp greens and add to the skillet. Then gently mix ramps into cooked pasta! Mix in grated Parmesan and serve.

Wild Ramp Pesto Recipe

Back when I worked at a farm on the East Coast, we would have samples of ramp pesto for customers to try. It’s incredible. As the person in charge of making said samples, I decided that I was therefore allowed to eat copious amounts of it when customers were not around! It’s divine on a sandwich, on crostini, on a potato salad, or simply on a spoon.

Pesto is also the best way to preserve the ramp leaves. The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator in the short term or frozen for use later.


1 bunch (about 6 ounces) ramps
½ cup walnuts (toasted in a skillet for 5 minutes until golden)
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt to taste
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil (or ½ cup—you kind of have to eyeball it)
Squirt of lemon juice
½ cup flat-leaf parsley (optional)

1. Wash ramps throughly and cut off the leaves of the ramps.

2. Chop the ramp leaves and walnuts just a bit and put them in your food processor. (Optional: add parsley.)

3. Add most of the cheese (save a sprinkle for serving) plus salt.

4. Pouring the olive oil in slowly, process contents until they combine and look, well … pesto-y.

5. Taste for seasoning and add a good squirt of lemon juice.

Served as a side with warm pita and bulgur with butternut squash and chard

Convinced yet? If you ever see ramps in a recipe, now you know what they are! You’ll never think of inclined walkways the same way again.

Ramp Pesto Spaghetti with Burrata

This recipe is inspired by one that first appeared in Gourmet magazine in April of 2000 and more recently was included in Ruth Reichl’s latest book Save me the Plums. In my version I added pancetta and breadcrumbs toasted in the rendered fat to add more salty/ nutty flavor and burrata to add creaminess.

This recipe is great because it comes together quickly and makes use of only a few ingredients. While the majority of the ingredients can be found all year round, the shining ingredient, ramps, are only found for a few weeks in the spring. While usually the farmer’s market is the best choice to find them I recently discovered some at Eataly.

While it can be hard to describe what ramps are, it’s easy to explain what they aren’t. They aren’t leeks or scallions or onions or shallots but they are in the same allium family. They are often called wild leeks or spring onions and taste more like a mix of mild garlic and leeks. Look for a pale pink or white bottom and two wide flat leaves coming from the top. They are typically foraged in the spring for a short period so keep an eye out. Former Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin is quoted saying, “It’s like that elusive thing — the bad boyfriend, the jazzy car of the vegetable world.”

While I love their flavor and the hunt for the obscure alliums is almost as fun as finally finding them. In the spring I am constantly on the lookout every trip to the farmers market and grocery store I go to. It’s one of those ingredients like morels or fiddleheads where I will buy them when I see them and figure out what to make later.

Ramp Pesto Recipe

This Ramp Pesto Recipe is made with ramps and pine nuts. Whether you know them by ramps, ramsons, wild leeks, or wild garlic, it is the same thing. The name of the plant is allium tricoccum. There aren’t a lot of ramp recipes out there that I’ve found. But, it’s easy to make pesto and serve it over your favorite pasta.

So, if you don’t happen to have ramps, you can easily make this recipe with parsley, mint, chives, or another type of green onion. And, if you cannot find ramps growing wild in your area, you might be able to find them in your grocery store or at your farmer’s market or food coop.

If you’ve never tasted ramps before, they have a garlicky taste that makes them perfect for this Ramp Pesto Recipe. If you break a tip off from the ramps when you’re harvesting them, you will smell onion.

So, if you are harvesting wild ramps for the first time, I highly recommend you go with someone who knows what they’re doing. Or, that you get a really good wild edible identification book. You will want to look for them very early in the spring at about the same time your wild bulbs are starting to sprout. If you have lilacs already in bloom, you may have missed the season. You want to harvest them before they bloom.

What do I need to make this Ramp Pesto Recipe?

You need a few simple ingredients:

  • Wild ramp leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic clove
  • Pine Nuts
  • Finely grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt to taste

You will also need a non-stick pan to roast the pine nuts and a food processor to process everything finely.

How do I make Wild Ramp Pesto?

This really is a simple recipe to make. Pesto is so easy to make but it sounds intimidating if you’ve never tried it before. You may also like this easy pesto recipe.

  • Roast pine nuts in a pan on low to medium heat till nuts turn brown. Do not add any oil, dry roast only. Be patient, it takes a while for all the nuts to turn brown.
  • Put garlic, parmesan, olive oil, roasted pine nuts in a food processor, add wild garlic leaves in batches to process.
  • Add salt to taste.

What should I serve Ramp Pesto on?

Once you’ve made this Ramp Pesto Recipe, you can serve it on top of spaghetti or linguine. Or, if you prefer, you can spread it on your favorite homemade bread. Or you can top your chicken breasts or your fish with it. Why not try it on gnocchi or polenta? Here are a few recipes you can try to get started.

How can I store leftovers?

If you have leftovers from this Ramp Pesto Recipe, you can store them in the refrigerator for three to five days. Make sure they are in a tightly covered container to keep them fresh.

This ramp pesto will freeze well. You can store individual servings in an ice cube tray. Then, just take out one or two when you’re ready for dinner. Since ramps are only available for a short period each year, it’s a good idea to make a big batch and then put some away. It will stay good in the freezer for up to six months.

More foraging recipes and posts

Foraging is fun. And, once you know how to do it, you may find yourself want to learn more. If so, check out these posts.

More condiment recipes

I love making my own condiments because I control what I put in them. If you want to give it a try, here are a few simple condiment recipes that you can make.

What is wild garlic/ramp?

Wild garlic is a plant that grows in the Eastern US and Canada and also in many European countries.

It tastes similar to fresh garlic cloves but it’s less pungent and has more subtle floral flavor. It’s also known as ramp, ramps, wild leek, Canadian garlic, Canada onion or wild onion. It’s called ramps in America and wild garlic in Europe.

The season for wild garlic is in spring, from late March to the end of May. It may not be easy to find in the stores but should be plentiful at the farmer’s markets.

Wild garlic is very popular in Austria, where I live. You can find it mostly in the woods, but I’ve seen many people harvesting it in the area that belongs to the Schönbrunn Palace!

If you want to search for it yourself, I’ve found this video on how to identify wild garlic helpful.

What do ramps look like?

  • Their leaves were shaped much like that of tulips, soft and delicate to the touch.
  • Their bulb (which grows from the root) was a gorgeous light pink, turning to white as they stretched to the leaves, a natural ombre effect.
  • And the aromatics…. like sweet, pungent garlic that you just began to sauté in a hot pan, tempting you to bite into one raw.

They have a fresh perfume that lingers when you cut into them, a gentle garlic/onion flavor when softly cooked. And they bring a grassy freshness to any dish, subtly sweeter than their spring onion and leek cousins.

Ramps Are Here! Stop Freaking Out And Go Make These Recipes

If you've ever walked through the farmer's market in the spring, you've experienced throngs of people freaking out over the arrival of ramps. They're hard to miss, as they have a very unique -- or shall we say pungent -- aroma that's a cross between garlic and leeks. Some people confuse ramps for leeks, but this coveted spring gem is even greater than a leek. It's a perennial wild onion that has to be foraged. Therefore, it's in high demand. What we're basically trying to tell you is: if you see ramps, grab them. They'll be gone before you know it.

Ramps have a pearly white tuber, burgundy stem and wide floppy green leaves that resemble lily of the valley. They are beautiful. And they can be used in a number of ways, cooked or raw, just like onions. Ramps are great made into a pesto and smothered on just about everything. They're lovely in spring soups paired with spring's other darling, asparagus. And they even make a mean biscuit. Find those ramps and make these recipes, it's the best way to enjoy this fleeting season.

Making Fresh Wild Garlic Pesto

Seasonal eating is a way to get the best flavor and the most nutrition from your fresh ingredients. That means ramp pesto is ideal in early April (depending on your region, of course).

We collected a lot of wild garlic in the forest next to our house, so I made creamy wild garlic soup as well as pesto from it. I also froze some for later and use it as a garnish, for example for beetroot risotto, pasta or salads.

You can alter ingredients of your favorite dishes to better suit your climate, like use wild garlic instead of basil in a pesto. Be inspired by the traditional food and ingredients of your region.

Feel free to alter the greens, nuts and oil according to what&rsquos in season in your region right now to make your fresh pesto.

Pesto is an aromatic, super flavorful sauce traditionally made from basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and olive oil. While a classic version is fantastic on its own, we don't stop at the basics. Swap basil with other fresh herbs such as mint, parsley, or cilantro, or other greens like arugula and spinach. Use walnuts or almonds in place of pine nuts and even throw in salty, flavorful additions like anchovies, capers, and sardines. Or try the sharp and spicy Mustard Green and Roasted Garlic Pesto with Pecorino-Romano Cheese, pictured here. While we could eat pesto by the spoon or with crusty bread, it's too delicious to not utilize in a spectacular dinner recipe. Here, we're sharing some of our most amazing ways to use pesto.

One of the most classic&mdashand easiest&mdashways to make use of pesto is by pairing it with pasta. We have plenty of recipes that use broken lasagna noodles, campanella, orecchiette, spaghetti, and penne with pesto. But we don't stop there&mdashadd in lean turkey sausage, sliced salami, or seasonal vegetables to add even more might to a pesto pasta recipe.

Pesto is also a fabulous accompaniment to a cheese and charcuterie board, but to make it even more friendly as an appetizer, we created a pesto dip recipe that couldn't be easier to prepare. Simply mix pesto with sour cream and mayonnaise for a creamy, flavorful dip that you can serve with vegetables, chips, or pita bread.

From a traditional basil version to inspired twists featuring other aromatic herbs, ahead you&rsquoll find an assortment of creative, delicious, and family-friendly pesto recipes.