I’ve never cooked with ramps until now. A year ago, we splurged and ate at Table 52 as we crossed off the final Chicago bucket list items before moving. I can’t remember exactly what we ordered, but I’ll never forget the ramp ravioli served with our dish, that and the hummingbird cake. I should mention, I’m not a fancy eater. Quite boring actually. Take me to a bakery, and I’ll take anything on the menu. But take me to a nice restaurant, and I’ll probably turn my picky nose up at half the menu items. It’s embarrassing. And I call myself a food blogger.
Though, somehow that night I was brave enough to order something with ramps in them. Ramps? What were they? A weird meat? A pungent cheese? A dirt-tasting vegetable? Thankfully I asked none of these questions out loud and in turn ate the most amazing ravioli to ever cross my lips.
Thus, my search for ramps began. I asked all around at our local farmer’s market. They looked at me like I was crazy, and asked similar questions I had asked myself before taking a bite. I still wasn’t quite sure what they were. “They’re green, and kinda look like scallions.” I had seen all my NYC Instagram friends posting ramps like they were going out of style, so I knew what they looked like. But I still couldn’t pin point the taste even after having eaten the ravioli.
I never found those ramps. Until I moved to Connecticut. I only asked one guy at the farmer’s market this time. Had to maintain face in my new town. He said they’d be ready next week.
I made it just in time time to pick up one of the last bunches. I nearly missed my ramp opportunity after waiting in line to buy a croissant from one of my favorite bakers on the old PBS Everyday Food show. He owns a bakery in CT and sells at our market every Saturday. I was star struck, and may have told him I was a fan. He was kind, smiled, and retorted, “The bakery is where I make my dough, not the show.” He used the word “living” instead of “dough”, but I couldn’t help myself. I may have to eat 1,000 croissants by the end of the summer in hopes we’ll become friends. We’re not talking about ramps anymore, are we?
With ramps and a chocolate croissant in hand, I set out to recreate that coveted bite from a year earlier. Not quite knowing where to start, I did what I always seem to do, and turned it into pesto. A pronounced garlic flavor with an underlying onion taste. I finally figured out the flavor profile.
While I was at it, I decided it would be a good idea to make my own ravioli noodles, sans pasta press. They were a little on the thick side. I think it’s time to invest in pasta press. But there’s a full year before ramps will be in season again. They come in season as quickly as they’re out. Ramp ravioli—the only way I’ve had ramps. How do you serve them?
Side note—the ramp pesto recipe can be used a thousand other ways beside ravioli. Also, this light white wine cream sauce is killer and shouldn’t be constrained to this recipe. What I’m trying to say—this multi-faceted recipe has the potential for many other recipes. Go to town with it.
- Ramp Pesto
- 1 bunch ramps, fresh (about 20)
- 1/4 c. walnuts
- 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- juice of one meyer lemon
- about 1 lb. Fresh ravioli noodles or follow this pasta recipe
- Ricotta Filling
- 1/2 c. ricotta
- 1/4 c. ramp pesto
- Light White Wine Cream Sauce
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c. milk
- 1/2 c. broth
- 1/3 c. half and half
- 1/3 c. white wine
- 1/3 c. parmesan cheese, grated
- sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
- fresh basil
- Make ramp pesto. Lightly chop ramps. Add to a food processor or Vitamix. Continue adding the remaining ingredients.
- Puree until evenly combined, about one minute.
- Taste to see if more salt is necessary.
- Store in airtight container until ready to use, up to one week.
- Make ravioli. Follow this recipe, or pull out fresh pasta sheets and set aside. If making homemade, I'd recommend a pasta press to ensure super thin sheets.
- Make ricotta filling. In a bowl, stir together pesto and ricotta. See note above if making with a different type of pesto.
- Prepare ravioli. Prepare a small bowl of water. Set aside.
- To a sheet of ravioli, about 9"x6", add 3 dollops of the ricotta mixture, about a tablespoon, evenly spaced across the long half of the sheet. (see diagram).
- Dip finger or thin brush in water and paint around the edges of the pasta sheet and in between the ricotta.
- Carefully fold over and press, creating seems to differentiate each ravioli. Using a knife or pastry wheel, cut the ravioli into three pieces. Repeat until all noodles and filling are used.
- Begin boiling water.
- Make sauce. Melt butter in a small sauce pan. Once metled, lower the heat and whisk in flour until evenly combined.
- Stir in milk, being sure to work out any clumps. Add remaining liquids and stir well.
- Increase heat to medium-high and allow to thicken, stirring often. Add in parmesan, salt, and pepper. Once sauce has thicken, turned to low until pasta is ready. Taste and season if necessary.
- Cook ravioli. Once water is boiling, cook the ravioli until it floats to the top, about 3-4 minutes. Cook in batches as to not overcrowd the pan, causing noodles to stick together.
- Serve warm. Top with sauce and garnish with fresh basil.