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Fiddleheads, Ramps, and Pesto

Fiddleheads, Ramps, and Pesto
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Those wonderful harbingers of spring are popping up in gardens and markets, and I’m doing my best to use as much of them all as I can. Fiddleheads have come and gone, but I managed to get my hands on a pound or so.

I wanted to pick them myself and pickle them, but ended up blanching, then sauteing, them with lots of lemon and fruity olive oil. A friend makes martinis and garnishes them with pickled fiddleheads — they’re a great condiment for such a sophisticated yet simple cocktail.

I’ve been getting terrific ramps. If you’ve never had ramps, they’re a special spring onion with strong garlicky-chive flavor notes. Most people find ramps too strong to eat raw — they’re powerful despite their wee size. I’ve been making pesto and pickling them.

Here’s how I make the pesto: I blanch the ramps in salted water, dry them well, then puree them with walnuts and a bit of parsley, lots of olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon. I’ve already used up most of it, just tossing the pesto in noodles, but I made sure to freeze a bit, too.

As you can do with regular pesto, just fill a few sections of an ice-cube tray, freeze, and then pop into freezer bags. (I save one tray just for this purpose. No matter how well I scrub, I just can’t get the flavors out of the plastic, and that can really ruin a glass of lemonade.) And don’t forget to label the bag.

Pickled ramps are good, too. I use a lot of coriander seeds in my pickling mix — it calms those ramps right down. I’m open to suggestions for how to use pickled ramps (make a comment on this page), but I’ve found that a simple (olive oil, salt, and pepper) grilled steak with pickled ramps or a few spoonfuls of ramp pesto is an easy and delicious dinner. You could get fancy and tie the pickled ramps in a bow or something.

And if you’d like a new twist on old veggie favorite, try asparagus hummus — it’s ridiculously delicious. We’ve even made a video for you: Making Asparagus Hummus.

Read More: Edie Clark on Fiddleheads, Ramps


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One Response to Fiddleheads, Ramps, and Pesto

  1. Shirley Rubin-de-Cervens June 3, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    Never heard of ramps down here on Long Island until I tuned in to this program. I have some things that look like grass here in my garden but when plucked they smell oniony. I do have chives growing but when did ramps come into focus. I grew up in Manhattan, New York City – never heard of them.

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