Springtime potato salad with ramps, hazelnut and pecorino pesto


In preparation for the incoming Spring season, this is a fresh twist on potato salad, full of greenery and life. Ramps are a Springtime treat in the USA, but admittedly hard to find in some parts of the world. In lieu of ramps, you could substitute with with sautéed baby leeks or spring onions.

If you’re using leeks, you’ll only need 1 leek. Separate the green and white parts of the leek - sauté the green parts first, and then add the more tender white part.

Ramp, hazelnut, pecorino pesto
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil (my preferred brand is Lucini Premium Select)
2 bunches ramps (about 10 ounces), greens and bulbs separated, bulbs thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup grated pecorino
10 large basil leaves
½ cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
sea salt and black pepper

4 lbs (about 2kg) fingering or small potatoes
1 tbsp asparagus, woody ends removed
handful of salad leaves such as arugula or baby spinach

Heat skillet, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and add the ramp bulbs. Season with salt and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. When the bulbs are almost cooked, add the ramp greens and saute until wilted, about 10-15 seconds. Remove immediately from heat and coarsely chop.

Puree ramp greens, bulbs, ½ cup chopped toasted hazelnuts, and with about 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil until paste-like. Add ½ cup grated pecorino, blitz again until smooth. If too thick add another splash of oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. 

Slice asparagus into 2-inch pieces. In the same skillet as earlier, add a drizzle of oil and add the asparagus. Season with sea salt and cook for 1-2 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove from heat immediately to prevent overcooking.

Cook about potatoes in salted water until just tender. Drain and then halve. While the potatoes are still warm, dollop over the ramp pesto and toss to coat well. Add the sautéed asparagus, along with a handful of salad leaves. Season again, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve!

SALADHetty McKinnon