I have less than two weeks left in Seattle and I honestly don’t know how I feel. Zac and I are moving back to Pennsylvania on May 5th. We’ve been living in Seattle for the past 3.5 years. It seems more like home some days than PA has ever felt. Zac and I have grown to love this city; it’s opened us to different cultures and ways of thinking. We have been able to try different cuisines that we were never exposed to in the past, and we’ve cultivated some pretty awesome hobbies.
My intention was to write a series of blog posts highlighting our time in Seattle. But planning a cross country move, along with wedding planning and all the other little things we have going on, I haven’t had time to really sit down and work through my thoughts. So for now, I am saving all those Seattle thoughts and stories for future posts.
I did want to highlight one of my favorite parts of Seattle while we are still in the spring season: the farmers markets. They are everywhere in Seattle. Some are seasonal, some are permanent, but most of the time you can find one close to home and filled with a crazy variety of things that you didn’t even know existed.
Growing up, we tended to have the same produce year-round in the form of frozen and canned produce. My dad would grow a ton of veggies during the summer, but other than that, I was never really exposed to the diversity of produce that comes from a change in the season.
When we moved to Seattle, we started visiting farmers markets in different neighborhoods. Ballard Farmers Market is one in particular that we have enjoyed visiting. It’s a favorite spot to stroll through on a lazy Sunday. We watched the produce change week by week, taking in all the things we have never seen in the past. We saw various squashes in the fall/winter, squash blossoms, radishes, beets, and nettles in the spring. But one of my favorite new veggies that we discovered was ramps.
Ramps are awesome!! They are available in the spring for about 3 weeks. They are sometimes called a wild leek. They are tricky to harvest, which drives up the price, but they are worth it. Ramps have this lovely garlic flavor without the bitterness and strong bite that comes from eating raw garlic. The leaves of the ramps are tender and delicious, while the stems can be crisp and crunchy similar to a green onion.
The recipe I’m sharing today is for ramp pesto. Ramps leaves are delicious when made into pesto. They can also be sautéed or chopped into salads. I separate the leaves from the stems; the stems can be used in place of garlic in sauces or stir-fry’s. Stems can also be diced and thrown raw into salads. Traditional basil pesto normally calls for a couple cloves of garlic. In this case, the ramp leaves provide all the garlic flavor to the pesto without requiring additional garlic cloves. I love to throw some basil in with the ramps as well. It brings a nice depth and balance to the pesto. Lastly, I’ve included the addition of lemon zest and lemon juice as optional. I’m at the stage in my relationship with lemons where I am just starting to really appreciate their ability to wake up a dish. Adding lemon zest and juice provides a nice brightness to the pesto and helps to balance out some of the rich flavors from the olive oil and cheese.
If you can find ramps in your area I highly suggest you give them a try!! Let me know how you like them in the comments!
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yields: approximately 1.5 cups
Shelf Life: one week in an airtight container stored in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer
4 oz ramps (about 3 bunches), leaves separated from stems
½ cup packed basil
¼ pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Grana Padano
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Heat a small skillet over medium low heat. Toast the nuts for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the nuts to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.
- To the food processor add the ramps, basil, Grana Padano, and salt. Pulse until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the food processor.
- With the food processor running, stream in the olive oil. I prefer my pesto to be a tad on the chunky side and not swimming in olive oil. The amount of olive oil I’ve listed for this recipe leads to my ideal consistency, but you can add more or less oil depending on your preference.
- Once the pesto is processed to your desired consistency, store in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze immediately.