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Ramp Pesto with Seared Chicken, Radish and Bread Salad
Ramp Pesto with Seared Chicken, Radish and Bread Salad

Ramp Pesto with Seared Chicken, Radish and Bread Salad


You can add garlic or cheese to this pesto if you like, but don't let not having those things prevent you from making the pesto. If you only have ramps, oil and salt, you have enough to make a very flavourful sauce. Everything else is optional. There is really no point using olive oil in this pesto, because the ramp flavour will obliterate any flavour nuance the olive oil brings – might as well stick to a cheaper neutral oil.

4 bunches ramps, leaves only, bulbs separated
2 Tbs (20g) sunflowers seeds (optional)
1/2 cup (120mL) neutral oil, plus more for searing
1 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup (8g) grated Parmesan
4-6 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (120mL) white wine
1/2 loaf sourdough bread, torn into 2.5cm chunks
1/2 cup (120mL) cream
1 cup (240mL) chicken stock
1 bunch radishes, cut into thin slices


For pesto:

Roughly chop ramp leaves, reserving bulbs.

Toast sunflower seeds until golden and nutty.

In a blender, process oil, salt, sunflower seeds, garlic and cheese. Turn off blender and add ramp leaves. Turn on and whiz until pesto is smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup (60mL) for dish and freeze the rest.

Heat an oven to 180 C (350 F). Season chicken thighs liberally with salt and pepper.

In a large oven-proof frying pan, heat a glug of oil and sear the chicken thighs until golden brown. Transfer to a plate.

Add ramp bulbs and wine to the pan, with a pinch of salt and scrape up any brown bits in the pan. Cook and allow wine to reduce.

Add sourdough chunks, cream and stock and return the thighs (skin-side up) to the pan, resting on top of the bread nest.

Place frying pan in the oven and roast until thighs are cooked through.

Transfer cooked thighs from the pan to a serving platter to rest.

Toss reserved pesto and radishes with baked bread to coat.

Add to thighs, dot with additional pesto and serve.

Credits: This is an edited extract from Ruffage by Abra Berens, published by Chronicle Books $65 and is available where all good books are sold.

Photo Credits: Photographer: © EE Berger