Ramp and Spring Radish-Top Pesto of Possibilities

Spring is here with great flourish, and we’re celebrating every minute.

 It’s been a cold spring, so we’ve had to wait a little longer than we’d like for our early seasonal delights. Wild ramps and fiddleheads are now here in abundance, spring-dug parsnips of course, and the first of the seed-planted radishes and their beautiful tops have hit the farm stands. 

Spring greens

            Ramps are one of my favorite spring vegetables. A wild garlicky leek with intense aroma and flavor, these greens are always worth the wait, and they are quite nutritious in that spring-craving way. We love them steamed, sautéed, roasted, in soups, salads, main, and side dishes. 

Vibrant and full of nutrients, ramp and radish pesto is a delight after a long winter.

I’ll make just about anything green into pesto, and ramps are no exception.  A quick, luscious sauce, they are perfect on any pasta, smeared on a crostini, or used as a dip with fresh vegetables.

Let’s not waste and inch of these radishes

            Every inch of the radish is edible, yet the tops are one of the most neglected vegetables! Especially when young, they are delightful in a salad, or as a supporting actor in this ramp pesto. Here I’ve used the tops in the pesto and quickly roasted the radishes to sweeten them.

            I’ve used a whole wheat orzo in this, but you can substitute any favorite pasta. Our peas are just sprouts right now, so I used thawed frozen peas here. In season, fresh is always best.

Ramp and Radish Top Pesto on Whole Wheat Orzo

  • 1 bunch of ramps, about 15
  • 1 dozen spring radishes, tops and all
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup Italian pine nuts, toasted
  • Zest and juice of one large organic lemon
  • 1/3 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Few grates of nutmeg
  • 8 oz. whole wheat orzo
  • 1 cup peas

Put a pot on to boil for the orzo. Once boiling, it will only take a few minutes to cook.

Scrub the ramps well, trim off any roots, and chop. Pop in the food processor.

Cut the tops off the radishes, chop the greens, and put those in the processor as well. Slice the radishes in halves or quarters, drizzle with olive oil, season, and roast about 10 minutes in a hot oven.

Add the parsley, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest to the processor, and pulse to break up. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and process until smooth but still textured. Taste and correct seasoning to what you like.

Drain pasta and add pesto, how much you like. You’ll have plenty of pesto left over for other uses. Salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with a few more pine nuts, and maybe a few pea shoots from the hopeful garden!

Ramp and Radish Top Pesto Crostini

This is so simple, there really isn’t a recipe. Just smear some of the pesto on little slices of toast, top with a few oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, some olives, and a few more pine nuts for added texture. Delicious!

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  1. gabychops says:

    Thank you, all wonderfully good!


    1. Thank you! It hits the spot after a long winter!

  2. I have never cooked with ramps but you have inspired me!

    1. Now’s the time to find and try them Marilyn! So good!

  3. Great combination of ingredients. The radishes are now so plump and flavorful.
    Love the idea of this pesto. Unfortunately, ramps are hard to find here. But I’ll give it a try with scallions. 🙂

    1. Scallions would be tasty, with a bit of garlic. No garlic was needed with the ramps, strong as they are!

      1. Adding garlic is a good idea. I’ll give it a try. 🙂

  4. Gail says:

    I am sooo jelly. I miss my Indiana ramps. 💦🌱🌱🌱

    1. There’s nothing like them! And so fleeting a season!

      1. Gail says:

        Thank goodness I have snapshots and recipes! 🍃

      2. You bet! And lovely they are!

      3. Gail says:

        Thanks very much. 💜🍃

  5. You are so good at using everything, and wasting nothing! This pesto sounds amazing, what a wonderful Spring treat!

    1. Thank you Jenna! I was so delighted to see the first radishes! That wonderful color along with the new greens.

  6. This delicious looking dish certa9inly signals spring is here.

    1. It certainly is, with blue skies and colorful flowers. My lilacs are ready to bloom!

  7. BERNADETTE says:

    My mouth is watering especially for the crostini.

    1. I know, there’s something about a simple slice of toast with flavorful ingredients that encourages a good appetite!

  8. NativeNM says:

    You are certainly frugal with your garden! I would never have thought to trim the tops off of radishes or any other green to to make pesto. Wish I had a taste of your crostini, it looks delish!

    1. Thank you Jan! There are lots of “scraps” from the garden that are quite tasty! And you know how I hate wasting flavor!

  9. Suzassippi says:

    This pesto sounds wonderful! I want some. 🙂

    1. I’ll save you some!

  10. suzannesmom says:


  11. CarolCooks2 says:

    It looks and sound delighful, Dorothy..my neighbour gave me some lovely rainbow chard yesterday plus some beautiful mint and something I have yet to identify …I love it when that happens 🙂

    1. Greens, greens, greens! All so good Swiss chard is one of my favorites!

      1. CarolCooks2 says:

        And mine and the other greens are Asian mustard greens but we love our greens like you 🙂 x

      2. Love mustard greens!

  12. Talk about a recipe that shouts ‘spring.’ 🙂

    1. It does indeed! Thanks Judy, and happy spring!

  13. Carolyn Page says:

    Can’t find ramps here, Dorothy. However, spring onions are abundant, and this looks like a great pesto. I love the ingredients.

    1. There are so many pesto possibilities!

  14. terrie gura says:

    There you go again, wasting absolutely nothing! 🙂
    It’s funny to think that using the radish tops sounds innovative, when it is exactly what our grandmothers probably did from their own backyard gardens! I’m all in favor of using every part, especially when it makes a dish so interesting.

    1. You are so right Terrie! Nothing was wasted from the grandmothers’ gardens! Some of it is about freshness as well. I wouldn’t use the wrinkled, brown and yellow overgrown leaves from supermarket radishes (if indeed they even kept the greens on) but fresh from the garden or farm stand, they are remarkable!

  15. The ramps are a lovely touch!

    1. Thank you! They are such a flavor of the season!

  16. nancyc says:

    I love the idea of using all of the radish in this! Using the tops for the pesto is a great idea—why toss them when they are so nutritious. I like the idea of using the tops in salads too!

    1. They are definitely overlooked!

  17. There is so much flavor in this. I wish they sold fiddleheads here, I want to try them.

    1. Keep your eyes on the alert, you never know…

  18. A lovely recipe, Dorothy, I do like pesto but I’ve never tried to make it. I shall google what a ramp is as that is a new term for me.

    1. Many people call them wild leeks, and we look forward to these treasurers every spring. They are in the onion family, with a fresh garlic and scallion flavor. So delicious, but they are particular to the east from Canada down through to Tennessee.

      1. Ah, that helps, Dorothy. Thank you.

  19. Christy B says:

    The pine nuts would be the perfect final touch on this one!

    1. ThanksChristy! They do add a lovely, buttery flavor!

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