Ramp pesto

Ramps are quite a rarity if you go to the supermarket. You will probably not find them, and if you do, you’ll have to pay big for them. Last week my mother went to a restaurant in Stockholm, quite a fancy one. They had ramps on the menu, but when she got the dish, it was only one ramp leaf included. Guess that quite describes it, what kind of tasks they have.

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Ramps are like a mix between leeks and garlic. Think fragile leaves with a hint of garlic to the taste. I’m lucky, 15 min from here there is a small peninsular that is covered with them, some people here know about it, most don’t. They are very similar to Lily of the Valley which are poisonous and also grow nearby. But really, you can’t mistake them, flowers liking like most in the allium family and a smell that unmistakable.

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Now it is the best time for them, they are still small and the taste has its highest concentration. We should make a pesto. This pesto is one of my favourites. Probably even better then with basil (yes we omit entirely from using basil in this recipe) since you can eat more. The basil usually overtakes and I get quite tired of pesto after a while. But not in this one. I strongly recommend using a mortar instead of a food processor for making pesto (semi, you might need help from a food processor for chopping the ramps). The texture will still be persistent, not just a running smooth paste that the  processor will create. But be careful, I broke the pestle making the first batch, and some stone got into the mixture, I’m just lucky I realised it before anyone got a broken tooth.

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Ramp pesto
 
What you need
  • 150 g ramps
  • 4 tbsp raw walnuts
  • 3 tbsp dark miso
  • A pinch of salt
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
How to do it
  1. Start by grinding the walnuts into smaller bits in the mortar.
  2. The next thing would be to add the ramps, but since the fibers are quite strong in ramps I suggest that you prepare them by chopping them into small bits in a food processor first. Only using the mortar will take very long. Once chopped you add them to the mortar. Start grinding, even though they are already chopped you want them to release the flavours.
  3. Add the salt and miso. Continue to grind into a paste.
  4. As the last step add the olive oil slowly while grinding. Here you want the flavours to be released into the oil so grinding is still essential, don't just mix.
  5. Now you have the most delicious bring pesto ever.

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Eat on a sandwich or an amazing sundries tomato / olives / pesto pizza like me.

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Vegan kimchi

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So this time it will be a bit different, not a main course but a side dish. I love kimchi; it’s a very versatile lightly fermented spicy Korean dish that will be good for weeks in the fridge so it is possible to store it for the right time. First time I encountered it was in Japan, It was the first night and I spent in jet-lagged in Korean town. I just had some rice with kimchi, didn’t know what I ordered but it got me hooked. It can be made from cabbage, daikon, yeah even fruit. The only thing that defines it (according to me as a self-proclaimed expert) is the spice combination of ginger, chili and garlic. Normally it houses a Korean chili but I think you can go for whatever suits your needs. For the fish sauce that’s traditionally in there, we go miso style instead. I probably got fish sauce in the one I ordered in Japan, it is impossible to avoid; you can try your best order vegetarian/vegan foods, and there will still be some fish stock in there. I just had to settle with it. Let’s go for a basic cabbage style miso.

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Vegan kimchi
 
What you need
  • 2 large heads of napa cabbage
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2-inch ginger
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp miso
  • Salt
How to do it
  1. Use very clean utensils when fermenting. But don't worry about sterilization, that’s not needed.
  2. Remove the white base from the cabbage (don't throw them away). Slice the green parts and sprinkle them with some salt, allow to rest for one hour.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the white cabbage parts with garlic, ginger, chili powder, miso paste in a food processor. Process into a paste, add water if needed.
  4. Mix the cabbage with the paste. Place in a container like a bigger glass jar or similar. Pack the cabbage tightly, you want as much of the air bubbles as possible to go away. If the water released by the salt doesn’t cover the top of the cabbage you want to add more salt water (this fermentation, lacto acid, works underwater without oxygen). Dilute salt in water until it tastes like sea water.
  5. One the liquid is over the cabbage win want to hold the cabbage down, so it doesn’t float to the top. I find using a sealed plastic bag filled with water does the trick as a weight.
  6. Allow to ferment for 2 days in room temperature then transfer to smaller jars and place in the fridge for 1 week. Now your kimchi will be ready for prime time.

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