It’s now officially spring, and while winter weather is still hanging on across much of the country, we can’t help but anticipate warmer weather and all the wild spring bounty that comes along with it.
Fresh ramps, or wild leeks as they’re known in the north, are beginning to shoot up and should be ready for harvest in a few more days, but in the meanwhile, we’re satisfying our cravings with plump, mellow ramp bulbs that were frozen at the end of last year’s season. This week, we’re using them in a fabulously flavorful chimichurri.
Chimichurri is, of course, the famous South American concoction best known as a sauce for grilled meats of all kinds. There are many regional variations and the subject of what makes an “authentic” chimichurri is a matter of often spirited debate. Let’s just sidestep that particular question altogether and simply say that our version is based on the classic combination of ingredients common to almost all chimichurri recipes, with one significant departure: the addition of wild leek (aka ramp) bulbs.
To make our recipe for Ramp Chimichurri even more flavorful, we popped the ramp bulbs under the broiler until they turned a rich golden brown with flecks of charring around the edges, giving them a subtly smoky sweetness. The mellow, yet unmistakable wild flavor of ramps gives our version of the classic sauce a savory complexity that sets it apart from the pack.
Plenty of fresh herbs and a generous spike of tart red wine vinegar give this famous sauce a bright flavor that goes with just about everything. While it’s most often used as a condiment with grilled meats, versatile chimichurri makes a marvelous marinade or base for vinaigrettes too.
Makes about 2 cups
- 1 cup packed flat leaf parsley
- 2 oz fresh or frozen ramp bulbs (about 6 – 8, depending on size)
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup packed fresh oregano
- 1/2 tsp crushed red chile pepper, or more to taste
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for the ramps
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the broiler of your oven, placing a rack on the top shelf.
Slice the ramps lengthwise and lay them out on a sheet pan. Brush the cut surfaces with a little olive oil. When the broiler is good and hot, slip the pan in. Broil the ramp bulbs until they begin to brown and char slightly, about 3 minutes, then turn them to char on the other side for a minute or two. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and chop finely.
Rinse the parsley and oregano well and blot dry. Chop the fresh herbs with a sharp knife, but don’t chop them too finely – the sauce is better with a little texture. You can use a food processor, but we feel you’ll get a better result chopping by hand, and it only takes a minute or two.
Stir the chopped herbs and all remaining ingredients together in a bowl until well blended.
Set aside at room temperature for an hour or two to allow the flavors to meld. You can use it right away, but the flavors will continue to improve the longer it sits. Spoon generously over grilled or roasted meats, poultry, seafood and vegetables. This sauce is addictive, so be sure to serve extra on the side!
Pour any unused portion of the chimichurri into a jar or other container and cover tightly. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks – if it lasts that long.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
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