Did you claw your way to the front of a farmers market stand to get your hands on one of the season’s first bushels of ramps? Perhaps even foraged them yourself, on a hike through the woods upstate? Okay, that’s unlikely, but hopefully you’re in possession of spring’s most coveted veggie, wild young leeks with a garlic-like aroma and pronounced onion flavor. But how the heck do you use them?
While sautéing and roasting are both viable options, you really can’t go wrong with an all-purpose pesto. Because ramps boast broad, edible leaves, they make a fine replacement for herbs, and since they’re related to garlic, they provide plenty of pungent flavor. But a little goes a long way — which is why we prefer to dollop ramp pesto on creamy, seared sea scallops, mellowed even further by a handful of sprightly spring greens. So go ahead and get your ramp fill right at home!
Sea Scallops with Ramp Pesto
bunch of ramps
cup walnuts, toasted
cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (plus extra for sprinkling)
Juice of half a lemon
cup olive oil
salt and pepper
24 large sea scallops
2 tablespoons butter
Spring salad greens
Wash and cut off the leaves of the ramps. Add the ramps and walnuts to a food processor, and pulse until they are just broken down. Add the cheese and lemon juice. Pour the olive oil in slowly, and process the contents until they combine a paste. Add more olive oil if the pesto is too thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Season scallops with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, then add butter. When butter begins to brown, add scallops and sear until golden, 1 1⁄2-2 minutes. Turn scallops and cook until opaque, 1 1⁄2-2 minutes more. Set salad greens and three scallops on each plate. Top with ramp pesto.