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Spring! At long last! I'm not sure about y'all, but spring is still definitely taking its sweet time to arrive in the New York City area. Some days, the mercury has hit close to 80! However, as I sit here typing this, the current temperature is 53 and cloudy. Still, seeing tree branches peppered with young green leaves and brilliant pink flowers gives me hope that consistent pleasant temperatures are around the corner!
The farmers' markets in Manhattan are now overflowing with an abundance of seasonal spring fruits and vegetables, and I am excited to pick up fresh bundles of asparagus, ramps, and rhubarb every week. I get especially excited about the ramps; part of the allium family, anyone that loves a good leek or scallion will love these. Their growing season is short and they are foraged, so there is a usually a mad rush to get them while they are available. I've seen a mad rush of woman in their 20s and 30s pillaging for them; I'm surprised fights haven't broken out when availability is scarce. Ha! Look through any NYC-based recipe developer's Instagram feed this time of year. I can guarantee you'll see something with ramps in or on it. 😉
When Candace did a poll in her Instagram Stories months ago asking what you - the followers - wanted recipe-wise, there was a collective cry for more vegan-friendly recipes. I am more than happy to oblige! My original Ramp Pesto on Seek Satiation utilizes Parmesan cheese. For the first time ever, I experimented with using nutritional yeast in a recipe, and I was pleased with the results! Admittedly, on my first round of recipe testing, I enlisted the advice of my vegan and dairy-free friends; I had no idea if I needed to use a 1:1 ratio for Parmesan vs. nutritional yeast. They said use less, and I am GLAD that I heeded their advice! Still, using 1/3 cup on the first go 'round - compared to the 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese I use in the original recipe - overpowered the flavor of the ramps! On my second go ' round, I found 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast still provided a sharp cheesy kick while allowing that special ramp flavor to hold its own. That being said: I would suggest starting with an 1/8 of a cup of nutritional yeast, and tasting as you go along, adding an 1/8 of a cup at a time until you get the flavor you prefer. Some may prefer more "cheesy" than oniony. You do you, YBC® Fam!
This is great tossed with your favorite pasta, but I do love spreading it on some toast or plopped a spoonful on top of my eggs. Mmmmm...
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Ramp Pesto, Two Ways (With Cheese or Nutritional Yeast)
– 1 bunch ramps, thoroughly cleaned and stringy and roots removed (bunch sizes range, but I usually use 10 - 12 ramps)
- 1 large bowl iced water
– 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated OR 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, divided into two 1/8 cup servings
– 1/2 cup walnuts
– 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or neutral-flavored oil of choice (Use code podcast for a discount)
– Juice of 1/2 lemon
- If you are really about that strong oniony flavor, keep the white ends on the ramps, just removing any stringy roots still attached. For a milder onion flavor, discard the whites and only use the greens.
1.) Prepare large bowl of iced water and set aside. Roughly chop up ramp leaves (and white parts, if using). Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil, blanch leaves for 15 seconds, then immediately transfer leaves to iced water. Drain ramps and gently squeeze out as much water as possible. Set aside.
2.) In a small pan, toast walnuts over medium-high heat, approximately 2 – 3 minutes, until golden; do not let them burn! Remove from heat, allow to cool for a few moments, then roughly chop.
3. Add blanched ramps and walnuts to food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add cheese OR nutritional yeast and lemon juice; pulse to combine. (SEE NOTES regarding cheese vs. nutritional yeast.) Slowly drizzle in olive oil and continue to combine until pesto is formed; it should be thick but spreadable, and add more oil as preferred to make the pesto looser. Scrape down sides of food processor, if necessary.
4.) Save pesto in airtight container for up to five days in refrigerator.