Ramps are also know as wild leeks, potent like a cross between garlic and onions except, unlike shallots, they are green and full of the life of green. They have been on my radar and I’ve been watching for them. But is wasn’t until this past weekend when I discovered a huge patch of bloodroot on my property that I began to understand how much is ‘out there’ that I don’t ever see. I was simply clearing last years now dry pruned limbs from underneath each apple tree, snapping most of it into burnable lengths for kindling, and dragging the larger pieces over to a pile that has been established in a far corner of the property out of sight. Discovering the entire ground under this pile bursting with bloodroot blossoms signaled the end of the mornings work. I stood there gaping at the profusion of blossoms, marveling at the sheer abundance of this plant that I used to watch for every spring in my home garden. But there was never more than just a half dozen blossoms each year. I kept waiting for more. Now, in this place under the hidden brush, there was more than enough bloodroot to harvest, and still leave for the next year.
It’s like a domino effect. Finding one thing I knew I could harvest sustainably led me to thinking about what other wildness out there I could find too. That afternoon being led into a section of the woods I’d never been to before, saw the oasis of green from a distance amongst the still brown woodland floor, and walked across wetness and mossy covered rocks to reach what I knew could only be a prolific patch of ramps.
I dug in with my fingers to extricate the plant intact with their pure white root bulbs and left with a handful that went into that night’s dinner,
only whetting the desire for gathering more. I then researched and learned that it is best to leave the roots, harvest just one leaf from each plant to insure next years growth. Arriving at the mother lode today, I was overcome anew. So much glorious food!
Beautiful perfect silky greens that gave way easily to my now gently probing fingers, just enough for today, knowing I would return for more.
I have been bitten by spring growth. I harvested just a fraction of the ramps from this place, made two batches of ramp pesto, and still had enough to add a cups worth to my quinoa meal for the evening. I caught myself feeling guilty pleasure in foraging for fresh and wild, and making something delicious right away to capture this essence; feeling how the art of sharing is born from compulsion to gather and create that lives in abundance.
When I deposit the ramps on the counter, I notice the leaves are as firm as when I picked them. I don’t want to tempt fate and lose the life contained here, and pull out my four cup food processor. These leaves and their white pink stems get cut into strips and I fill the bowl of the food processor with them. They never flag, never wilt, never lose their crisp from the woodland earth essence. I throw a handful of organic walnuts on top and process.
Scrape the bowl add a little olive oil and process again. Now it’s simply a matter of adding enough olive oil to bring this mixture to a pliable consistency that, like a good meringue, holds it’s own. It is gorgeous turned inside out green. Add a liberal shake of salt, pepper, and ground fennel.
Process briefly again. Taste. And ah, this pesto needs no cheese, let’s just call it a spectacular vegan pesto. I can’t believe how perfect it is, I’m trying to remember what basil tastes like and I can’t because this version is so good. I’m able to freeze one large and one small container of this gold and leave a heaping tablespoon out for tonight’s supper.
I add a quarter cup of quinoa to about a cup and a quarter of chicken stock and bring to a boil. I cut up the last of the ramps (about a cups worth), skin and dice a small potato, and add both to the pot. Cover and simmer on low until quinoa is done. When I look in the pot there is no hint of green left, the ramps have dissolved and fully integrated with the rest of the contents in this pot. It smells amazing. Wild and free is visually restored after adding the heaping tablespoon of ramp pesto. Double ramp goodness.
This is a strong pesto. It starts out smooth and pungent on the tongue, builds strength, delivers a delicate savory punch in combination with the mild quinoa and potato. The quality of ‘just right’ actually overwhelms. I’m still wallowing in disbelief at how easy this has been. What else is there to find?
I need only look a few feet away. It took only three days to grow an abundance of sprouts right here on my kitchen counter.
In the next room, there are the seeds germinating as early starts for my garden. Most of these seeds came from the annual local free seed exchange in my community. Being a first timer, I took a lot of seeds. Way too many seeds. I’m learning here too that it only takes a few seeds to sow abundance. It’s been about a week and a few of the beans buried in fluffy brown soil, sitting on a table in the sun of the porch room, have broken free,
Not as wild and free as the ramps in the woods, this is a more controlled growth that will be transplanted and consistently tended to. Witnessing the unfolding brings more pleasure, a beautiful expression of emergence and capacity.
“Focus on human potential remains impotent without a focus on human capacity. Capacity is expressed in the present. It is immediate. The key to it lies not in what we have inside of us, but rather what we are willing to own that we have inside of us.” (Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love)
I have been bitten by spring growth. Grateful for how it leads me to experience the abundance inside of me. Through the art of sharing, I learn what needs to remain inside, patiently, for future growth.