Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ricotta Gnocchi with Ramp Pesto

This could hardly be called a New York-based food blog I didn't feature at least one recipe with ramps. Ramps are wild leeks that have a very short growing season and are all the rage in the East Coast culinary world at the beginning of spring. The bulbs and stems are as pungent and garlic, while the leaves have a grassy flavor. This combination makes ramps versatile ingredients, able to brighten dishes ranging from pasta to eggs.

I used my first ramps of the season to make a ramp pesto, which I served with ricotta gnocchi I had made from the A16: Food+Wine cookbook. This was my first ever attempt at pasta, and I was pleased with the result. While not nearly as light and fluffy as great gnocchi can be (mostly due to my lack of a stand mixer and the addition of too much flour), the flavor was very nice. More importantly, the gnocchi held together when I boiled them, making them a success in my book.

Although I cooked the ramp bulbs and stems prior to processing them for the pesto, it was still incredibly pungent and peppery. The flavors overwhelmed the gnocchi, so I would recommend just pairing it with a simple dried pasta such as rigatoni. I would think the pesto would also be great with any roasted or grilled meat. Just be sure to brush your teeth thoroughly after trying this pesto, as your breath will be potent.

Ramp Pesto

  • 3 to 4 bunches of ramps, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 1 tbsp plus 3/4 to 1 cup of olive oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp walnuts
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  1. Separate the ramp stems and bulbs from the leaves. Chop the stems and bulbs into small pieces. Set aside and reserve the leaves.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped ramp stems and bulbs and cook, stirring occassionally, for about 5 minutes (do not brown).
  3. Add the ramp leaves, bulbs and stems, salt, walnuts, and 1/2 cup of oil to the bowl of a food processor. Process until a paste is formed, then drizzle in the rest of the olive oil while continuing to process the mixture. Continue to add more oil until pesto reaches a desired consistency. Taste for salt.
  4. Fold in the parmesan cheese and serve.


  1. Wow, that looks terrific! Great job on your first attempt at pasta. I started out with gnocchi, too, and I'm itching to move on to harder stuff :).

  2. Thanks Ali! I'd love to try the harder stuff, too, but not sure my tiny kitchen can handle it. Or rather, not sure that I can handle the clean-up. I love your blog, btw!



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