It’s that time of year again in Lanark County (and I’m sure other parts of Ontario) – time for wild garlic (or ramps or wild leeks – many names for the same plant). My first foray into picking wild garlic was last year and while our foraging was fruitful, the bugs made it quite miserable. We were more prepared this year and it was earlier in the season, so the mosquitoes were non-existent – only a few black flies to deal with. A 30-minute foraging session yielded us 2 lbs of beautiful plants. We took heed of advice from pickers before us – be a conscientious picker and leave lots of plants behind for the next season. After I got the plants home, it took about 3 hours to clean them up and get them ready for processing. I made a ramp butter (the leafy green parts of the plants), a ramp pesto and pureed the bulbs with some grape seed oil to be kept in a small jar in the refrigerator. I didn’t use recipes for the stuff that I made – just decided on ways that I thought I would enjoy the spring goodness later.
For the butter: 1 stick of unsalted butter (cut into 1/2″ pats) 1/4 cup of grape seed oil (drizzle in while the machine is running) About 2 cups of ramps (I loosely packed the bowl of the food processor, after putting in the butter) – Process in a food processor until combined. I added the grape seed oil to help it blend better with the butter (without adding any extra flavour). It is now safely in the freezer until corn season in August.
For the pesto: About 3 cups of ramps (packed the bowl of the food processor, a little more than with the butter – not very scientific I know, but experiment and see what flavour you are getting) 2 handfuls of blanched, peeled almonds Extra virgin olive oil poured in while the machine is running – until you get the desired texture – this took about 1/2 a cup A pinch of salt – Since I was freezing it, I decided not to add any cheese – I will add some grated fresh when I use it.
For the jarred bulbs: I put them in the bowl of my mini-processor and added enough grape seed oil to form a paste Simple! I used the fruits of my labour as follows: – the puree, I have sautéed like garlic along with some grated ginger and used as a base for steamed broccoli and snow peas – the leaves I chopped and added to a lentil soup (about 1/2 cup); finely chopped and sprinkled on some fresh tomatoes with a pinch of smoked salt. The leaves I use as I would any fresh herb. I thing which I found interesting was that as strong as the plants smell, the taste is quite mild and I always end up using more than I think I would need. It is still pretty early in the season and I think we may end up going back to our spot for another round of picking – we’ll see.
For some more pictures and my blog on the adventure visit MyMacaroniPie