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“Ramp up the Volume” Pesto with Seared Sea Scallops


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
Serves 8

 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.

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