I Went Ramp Picking and All I Got Was This Stupid Recipe

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m spending an inappropriate amount of time these days eating, thinking about, and planning my time around ramps. Case in point: This past weekend I traveled upstate from Manhattan upstate to Cold Spring—a quaint town on the Hudson River known for its fantastic hikes—with the intention of returning with garbage bags full of ramps. I promised to share my bounty with friends and coworkers, to pickle and jar enough to keep me well-ramped for the entire year, to come up with new ways—ramp fritters, ramp gnocchi, ramp brownies—to use my surplus.

Ramps thrive in the wettest spots of hardwood forests. They love marshes and streambeds and decaying wood. The web of hiking paths around Cold Spring is abundant with all of these things. So I hiked with my eyes fixed on the forest floor, scanning for patches of dark green leaves. Two days and many blisters later, I got back on the train without even a whisper of a ramp. Where were they? Other forest-floor salad fodder was thriving: skunk cabbages, nettles, fiddlehead ferns. Perhaps the ramps had come and gone. Perhaps they never showed up at all.

When I returned home, I found a bag of forgotten ramps in my refrigerator. What would have seemed like a modicum compared to my foraging booty was now a rainy day stash. So I made some ramp pesto (recipe below), tossed it with pasta and started planning Ramp Tour 2008.

Ramp Pesto:
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 cups ramp greens
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt
In a food processor, pulse the pine nuts with the cheese until finely chopped. Add the ramp greens and pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl. With the machine on, add the 1/4 cup of olive oil in a thin stream and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice and season with salt.

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