Ramps, ramps, ramps! That’s all some people can talk about this time of year. They grow wildly and abundantly during the first weeks of spring, are considered a spring delicacy by some and even are cause for celebration for our local chefs. Since it happens to be ramp season, I wouldn’t be a legitimate farm market blogger if I didn’t create a recipe using these beautiful “wild leeks.”
Ramps are essentially a wild onion. The bulb of a ramp closely resembles a scallion, but the deep green leaves set it apart from other onion varieties. The smell and taste of a ramp is often compared to a combination of garlic and onion. Like other onions, such as leeks or scallions, every part of the ramp can be used except for the roots. The green leaves have a milder taste than the stem. Ramps have been known to be pickled, fried, sautéed, used in soups or quiches. There is no limit to the amount of creativity a ramp-lover can explore.
For this recipe, I wanted to use the ramps raw. I have read few recipes in which the ramp leaves are blanched (dropped briefly in boiling water) before being processed into a pesto. The theory behind this is that it makes the color more vibrant. However, I am a huge fan of using raw ingredients whenever possible, as this maintains more of the ingredient’s nutrients (ramps are very rich in Vitamins A and C).
So the question was, what should I do with this ramp pesto? And then it hit me – slather some ramp pesto over fish and bake it that way. After speaking with Victor, the fish expert over at Lobster Maine-ia, I decided on fresh caught wild salmon. Here’s a little known fact for you: Lobster Maine-ia doesn’t just have lobster! They carry a wide variety of seafood and fresh fish from tuna and swordfish to mahi mahi and salmon. They are located at all three Central Farm Markets and will always give you great advice about what fish works perfectly with your dish…which is how I came to use salmon in this recipe.
One more thing about the ingredients, before I can share the actual recipe; I chose the sweetest sun sugar tomatoes from Mock’s Greenhouse for the side salad. I highly recommend you do the same. Sun sugars are my absolute favorite tomato. They are the perfect balance of sweet and tart. They melt in your mouth and instantly make you want another. I cannot stress enough how delicious these tomatoes are and how much of an asset they are to this salad, or any salad in general. Mock’s Greenhouse carries a large variety of heirloom tomatoes and can also be found at all three Central Farm Markets.
Ramp Pesto Salmon and Salad
- 1 Bunch of Ramps (Young Harvests)
- ½ cup Toasted Walnuts
- ½ cup Olive Oil (All Things Olive)
- 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated (Stonyman Gourmet Farmer)
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 2 Large Salmon Fillets* (Lobster Maine-ia)
*Weight will depend on how large you desire each serving
- 1 pint Sun Sugar Tomatoes (Mock’s Greenhouse)
- 1 container “Boccocino” Mozzarella Balls (Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)
- 1 container Tasti-Crisp Lettuce (Spiral Path Farm)
- Wash and cut off the leaves of the ramps. Save stems for pickling or sautéing, if desired. Set aside 2 leaves for later.
- Chop the ramps and walnuts together. Place them in a food processor.
- Add most of the cheese (leave some for garnish), plus salt and pepper.
- Process contents, slowly adding the olive oil, until they are well combined.
- Taste to make sure seasoning is good, add the lemon to taste.
- Preheat your oven to 325.
- Place foil on a baking sheet. Dry salmon fillets with a paper towel and place them skin-side down on the baking sheet.
- Use about ¾ of the ramp pesto to cover the salmon fillets, making sure to cover all sides.
- Bake in oven for about 15 minutes, until the pesto starts to brown around the edges. Meanwhile, make the salad.
- Using the remaining pesto, add olive oil, a tablespoon at a time, until it thins out and becomes more of a dressing (I ended up using about 4-5 Tbsp).
- Slice sun sugar tomatoes in half.
- Slice mozzarella balls into circles.
- Take remaining ramp leaves and chiffonade them (lay them on top of one another and cut into long, thin strips).
- Toss tomatoes, mozzarella, and ramp together with the pesto dressing, making sure to coat all ingredients.
- Remove salmon from oven and let cool a bit before serving. Put a handful of salad mix on the side of the plate and top with tomato salad.