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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Grilled Prawns with Ramp-Pistachio Pesto

When I stopped by Whole Foods on my way home from my birthday trail run, I almost squealed in glee when I saw fresh ramps in the produce section. I grabbed a handful. At the register, they discovered that ramps had not yet been added to their system. So they gave them to me for free! Happy birthday to me. This was another un-planned dish for my dinner party for two.

These GIANT prawns called to me at the Sea Harvest fish market. When I served them, Jake asked if they were mini lobsters. Just about! Given their size, I only bought two as part of our starter course.

Ramp-Pistachio Pesto

Pesto is a sauce that originated in the Ligurian region of northern Italy. The name derives from the Italian verb pestare which means to pound or to crush, referring to the original way of preparing it - with a mortar and pestle. The ingredients in a traditional pesto are ground with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar. For this one, I did pull out my mortar and pestle, but I often make pesto in a blender or food processor.

When you say 'pesto' most people automatically think Pesto Genovese which hails from Genoa and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil, and pine nuts blended with olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano. This version uses fresh ramps - the bulb and the greens - and pistachios. I didn't use any cheese, but did add a splash of tartness with lemon juice.


  • 1 bunch organic fresh ramps

  • 1/2 cup raw pistachios

  • olive oil (I used a co-milled garlic olive oil)

  • salt and pepper

  • freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • Also needed: mortar and pestle


Trim and clean the ramps, setting aside the leaves. Place the trimmed stems in a saucepan covered with water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, remove from the heat and drain.

Place the blanched ramp bulbs in your mortar and pestle with about 1/4 cup roughly chopped ramp leaves and the pistachios. Grind the ingredients together until they start to form a paste. Drizzle in olive oil as needed. Once you have your desired texture, season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Set aside until ready to serve.

Grilled Prawns

This isn't so much a recipe as a process.

Peel and devein the prawns. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan and quickly cook the prawns until just opaque, approximately 90 seconds on each side...maybe two minutes per side if they are really big. But don't over cook them. Remove from the pans and squeeze lemon juice over the top.

To Serve

Spoon pesto into a serving bowl. Arrange prawns on top. And garnish with edible flowers, if you have them. Serve immediately!

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