Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pacific Salmon with Wild Ramp Pesto

Spring has finally sprung here in southeastern Wisconsin. We've had gorgeously mild weather for the past few days, and it's given me a craving for deliciously fresh spring fare.

Seasonal local produce is still somewhat scarce. But, there are a few delicacies available to satiate my cravings. One is the delicious spring ramp. 

Resembling scallions, ramps begin at their base as lovely white bulbs whose gorgeous reddish-purple stalks rise upward into a plume of elegantly silky green leaves. With a mild flavor poised deliciously between that of leeks and garlic, they make a delicious addition to pasta dishes and pestos. And they marry particularly well with farm fresh spring eggs.

Many supermarkets carry ramps when in season. However, they can also be foraged*. We were lucky to have a friend who shared his favorite foraging spot with us this year, so we were able to head out today to pick up a few handfuls of this favorite spring delicacy.

The question, once we got them home was, of course, what to make?

Why, a simple pan seared salmon recipe, of course.
This uber-easy recipe makes full use of the flavor of the mild tops of spring ramps, in full complement to the rich, silky flavor of seasonal salmon.

Best thing is, there's very little effort involved. You just need a few simple ingredients, a food processor, and a nice heavy cast iron skillet for cooking your salmon.

If you've never seared salmon in cast iron before, you're in for a treat. It's quick, easy, and delicious.

Heat your cast iron skillet over medium heat until it's so hot it's almost beginning to smoke (5-7 minutes). Add a tablespoon or two of butter, and allow it to melt, covering the entire cooking surface. Place salmon filets in the pan and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes or until the filet begins to brown. Flip the filet, cover the skillet, and continue cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes -- or until the dark/under cooked middle portion of the filet comprises slightly less than a quarter of the total filet thickness.

Top salmon with ramp pesto before serving.

Spring Ramp Pesto

For those of you who love ramps as much as we do, stay tuned. We'll have a couple more recipe ideas for you coming up!

NOTE: *If you are lucky enough to know of a place to forage for wild ramps,take care to keep sustainability in mind. Harvest only from large, healthy beds and take, at most, a fraction of what is there (no more than 5-10% of a bed). Concern about over-harvesting has everything to do with the fact that wild ramps do not seed themselves; once you pick a ramp it does not grow back. And over-harvesting can easily decimate a ramp population. 



  1. That looks really good! I have been craving salmon lately. I got the spiced pecans in the mail and they are so yummy! I love them.

    1. Sarah - Aren't those pecans delicious? LOVE them.
      Bet they'd be great as a crust for salmon :)

  2. Never having cooked with ramps you get a similar flavor with the greens compared to the bulbs? Or not so much?

    1. T.J. - The bulbs and leaves both have great flavor, but the bulbs are more potent (much like a scallion - only sometimes stronger). We tend to cook the bulbs and use the leaves in raw preparations, though there are no hard and fast rules.

  3. You know I've only made salmon once, but it was very yummy. I will have to give this one a shot.


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