Springtime for foragers must mean seeing many new seasonal wild items appear, but ramps must be one of the most welcome sights. Ramps, a member of the Allium family, are essentially wild leeks that grow in shady wooded areas and are available from late April to early June. They can be used in any dish as a substitute for leeks, scallions, shallots and more. If you’re lucky enough to find ramps, be sure to try it in one of your recipes.
I’m not a forager, but had fun on a guided foraging hike with our local forager. Read more about that adventure in the post, Finding Food in the Wild.
One of my favorite things to make in late summer is basil pesto. If it’s a good year in the garden for basil, you better believe I’m going to make a year’s worth of pesto from it. When I found myself with some extra ramps after making this Ramp and Mushroom Quiche recipe, I immediately thought of making pesto.
Tip: Pesto can be stored for months by packing it tightly in a small jar and covering the entire top with olive oil to prevent oxidation. When ready to use, scrape the oil off the top and use!
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup combination of pine nuts and chopped walnuts (other nuts can be used - I just like this flavor combination)
6 tablespoons parmesan, pecorino or grana padano grated cheese
2 dozen ramp leaves, rinsed well (approximate…you can alter the amount based on the flavor you want)
Kosher salt to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Lightly toast the nuts in a small pan for approximately 1 minute, tossing often to avoid burning. Take the pan off the heat when they start to turn a slightly golden color and set aside.
Prepare a bowl of ice water and bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.
Blanch ramp leaves in the pot for approximately 1 minute. Remove the leaves and immediately place in ice water bath. When cool, use cheese cloth or a towel to wring them dry.
Add garlic and nuts to a food processor and pulse until blended.
Add the cheese and ramps and pulse until blended.
While food processor is on, add olive oil in a drizzle through the small opening at the top of the food processor until desired texture is obtained. This may be 1/4 - 1/2 cup, but add about a tablespoon at a time so you don’t make it too thin. (Pesto has a fairly thick texture.}
Add salt to taste.
If not using right away, pack the pesto tightly in a small glass jar and cover the top completely with olive oil. Refrigerate until ready to use.
I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).
I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)
This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.
In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself.
With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix DMC-ZS15 compact camera.)
I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.
Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!