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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Ramp & Nettle Pesto

I like to make pesto's out of ramps and stinging or wood nettle. I think that pesto is one of the best ways to preserve the flavor of the plant after prolonged freezing. I use it in risotto, on pizza, added to a pasta sauce, and as a sauce for stir fry veggies a lot.

So the basic basil pesto recipe is as follows:

2C Basil-Tightly packed
1/2 C cheese (parma or pecorino)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 C nuts-pine nuts are classic but I use mostly almonds and pistachios for the flavor
1/2 C olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

I use a food processor and just add all the ingredients and blend until smooth. I like this base pesto to be more of a paste, it freezes better. I add more olive oil when I want to eat it as a traditional oily pesto. When I use it as a cooking ingredient, its fine as is.

Ramp Pesto:

2C Ramp Leaves (no bulbs)-Tightly packed
1/2 C cheese (parma or pecorino)
1/4 C nuts-pine nuts are classic but I use mostly almonds and pistachios for the flavor
1/2 C olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Ive tried a quick saute on the ramp leaves and just using them raw. Raw imparts way more ramp flavor, so that is the way I do it all the time now. In general, I dont measure a lot, just taste. So if the 2C ramps dont have the ramp flavor you are wanting, just add more. Its sounds obvious, but start with a little and keep adding. You cant go back in time!

Nettle Pesto:

3C Nettle-Tightly packed before steaming-I use the top few leaves and stems from the young plants.
1/2 C cheese (parma or pecorino)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 C nuts-pine nuts are classic but I use mostly almonds and pistachios for the flavor
1/2 C olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Nettle needs to be steamed for a few seconds before using due to the stinging aspect. I usually try for about 30 seconds or until the leaves just start wilting. Better safe than sorry, so use good judgement. When I pick nettle, I use surgical gloves. I can pick them bare handed, but it takes a lot more care. The sting isnt all that bad, but bad enough that I dont want it. I found heavier gloves make it hard to pick the young stems/leaves. If the 3C nettle dont have the nettle flavor you are wanting, just add more.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Nettle and Ramp Soup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups potatoes (I like Yukon Gold), chopped
1 medium leek, washed well, chopped
2C ramp leaves, use the bulbs as well but remove before measuring the leaves
A handful of chives, plus extra for garnish
4 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock works well too)
4C of nettles-be careful when adding to soup so you dont get stung
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 C heavy cream

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the potatoes, leeks, and ramp bulbs, and toss them in the butter.
Cover and sweat the vegetables over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent (make
sure they don’t brown). Add the stock, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the ramp leaves, chives, and nettle and simmer another 5-6 minutes or until the leaves are soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add heavy cream.

Blend in a blender until very smooth, I use an immersion blender and just do it in the soup pot. If you really want a creamy soup, strain it thru a fine sieve after blending (I dont bother doing this very often). Reheat, taste and re-season if necessary.
 

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Ramp & Morel Risotto

First get yourself some Ramps/Leeks.

I have a spot where they grow right next to a brook making cleaning easy.
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Broth, cut up Morel pieces, bowl of Ramp bulb cross-slices and Aborrio rice (one of a number of Risotto/rices).

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I saute the Ramps & Morels separately.
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I get the risotto creamy and 80 % done and then add the Ramps and Morels.
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Glass of wine, salad and Ramp Morel Risotto. Satisfying!

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