(Yields 2 cups)
Chimichurri, like pesto, lends itself to many delicious tweaks. The traditional recipe for this Argentinean condiment utilizes fistfuls of chopped parsley, raw garlic, and oregano, giving this sauce a coarse punch. Popular tweaks include substituting half the parsley with mint or cilantro for oregano. These are all delicious variations. In this recipe, the garlicky-oniony pungency of fresh ramps takes the place of actual garlic and the parsley. Cilantro is added for balance and brightness.
While traditional chimichurri is excellent on a real beefy-flavored cut of meat, like flank steak, this ramp chimichurri is lighter, incredibly nuanced, and better suited to chicken or even white fish. If beef is preferred, try it on a milder cut—like tenderloin.
Unlike pesto, which needs to be made in a food processor to emulsify the basil, pine nuts, garlic, grated cheese and oil into a creamy sauce, this recipe can be quickly made using just a chef’s knife. You can use a food processor if you like, but I prefer the more rustic texture of hand-chopped greens, especially ramps.
Ramp leaves are quite mild, and since there isn’t garlic used in this recipe, make sure to select whole ramps with good-sized bulbs. All the pungency of ramps is in their porcelain tubers.
12 whole ramps with nicely developed bulbs (should be equivalent to about 1 cup, packed, after finely chopped)
½ cup cilantro leaves, large stems removed, lightly packed
¼ cup fresh oregano, loose
⅓ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
¼ teaspoon red pepper flake
¼ teaspoon white pepper, or more to taste (black pepper is also fine, but I like the milder bite of white for this recipe)
Finely chop the ramps, cilantro, and oregano. For the ramp tops, I find it easier to pinch them from the bulbs, lay them flat on top of each other, roll them up into a cigar shape, then julienne. From this point, the bulbs and other herbs can be chopped together.
Add the remainder of the ingredients, give it a good stir and serve. Or better yet, refrigerate for a day to allow the flavors to meld. And your refrigerator will smell amazing!