Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot Purée Muffins

ramp_carrot_muffins1.jpg

Spring is the time for one of my favorite vegetables - the mildly garlicky wild greens known as ramps, wild garlic, ramsons and so on in English. Ramps are still too obscure to be cultivated much, so you can only get them for a short time - which is not a bad thing really, because then you can look forward to them for the rest of the year. Carrots on the other hand are available year-round, but locally grown spring carrots just seem to be sweeter and tastier.

The best way in my opinion to capture the essence of ramps is to turn it into a pesto, a very easy thing to do if you have a food processor. And I’ve recently discovered the joys of carrot purée - finely shredded carrots that are steam-braised with a little butter just until they are tender, then mashed. And then, you can turn the concentrated vegetable paste in either case into a delicious savory muffin.

These little muffins take a bit of effort to make, since you need to make a pesto or a puree of vegetables first. But they are worth it. The muffin batter itself is very easy. Make a batch at a time and freeze the extras. If you make them small enough, you can pull one out of the refrigerator in the morning and it will be defrosted and fresh-tasting at lunch time.

Recipe: Ramp Pesto Muffins

rampmuffin-inside.jpg

Savory muffins that are flavored with garlicky ramps. Great for bentos, especially when made in mini-size.

Prep time: 20 min (included time to make the pesta) :: Cook time: 30 min :: Total time: 50 min

Yield: 24 mini muffins or 8-10 regular sized muffins

Serving size: 1-2 mini muffins

Ingredients:

  • 200g/7oz all-purpose flour, about 2 U.S.cups, though try to weigh it for accuracy
  • 2 teaspoons baking owder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 120ml / 1/2 U.S. cup buttermilk, you can substitute plain yogurt
  • 6 tablespoons ramp pesto, recipe below
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • several grinds black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 360°F
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs well, and add the buttermilk. Beat well to combine. Add the pesto and beat in. Add the sifted flour mixture, salt and pepper, and stir well to combine.
  4. Spoon into muffin molds or tins. Bake for 25 minutes for mini muffins, 30-35 minutes for larger muffins.
  5. Cool completely before packing into freezer-proof containers or bags to freeze. Muffins do go stale rather fast, so eat them within a day of baking and freeze the extras.

Recipe: Ramp pesto

Yield: Makes about 1 cup (240ml). Prep/cooking time is about 10 minutes.

About 2/3rds of this is used in the muffin recipe, so keep the rest for a pesto-pasta meal!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch ramps, to yield 4 cups when roughly chopped
  • 120ml / 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. Carefully wash the ramps, especially if they were gathered wild. Pat dry with paper towels. Chop them up roughly.
  2. Put the ramps in a food processor with the chopping blade. Process until finely chopped. Add the olive oil as the motor is running, until a fine, bright green paste is formed. At this point you can add salt if you like, but I like to leave the salt out and put it in when using the pesto. 3, The pesto will keep for a day in the refrigerator. Freeze the pesto by putting it in a ziplock bag and pressing flat. You can then break a bit off at a time whenever you need it.

Recipe: Carrot Purée Muffins

carrotmuffin-inside.jpg

These have a wondeful salty-sweet flavor.

The yields and cooking times are about the same as for the ramp muffins, but allow extra time to make the carrot puree since you have to cook the carrots. You can make the puree in advance.

Ingredients:

  • 200g / 7oz (about 2 cups, though try to weigh it for accuracy) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 120ml / 1/2 cup buttermilk (or yogurt)
  • 5 tablespoon. carrot puree (recipe below)
  • 80 ml / 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon. dried thyme

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 360°F.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs well, and add the buttermilk. Beat well to combine. Add the carrot purée and beat in. Add the sifted flour mixture, salt and dried thyme and stir well to combine.
  4. Spoon into muffin molds or tins. Bake for 25 minutes for mini muffins, 30-35 minutes for larger muffins.
  5. Cool completely before packing into freezer-proof containers or bags to freeze. Muffins do go stale rather fast, so eat them within a day and freeze the extras.

Recipe: Carrot Purée

This may look like carrot baby-food, but taste like heaven. It’s great on its own, spooned onto soup or pasta or rice, and so on. I saw a similar technique being demonstrated on the Masterchef Australia program (which is a terrific program by the way) where they used it on a plate of beautifully cooked baby vegetables.

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 tablespoonp butter or olive oil
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/8th of a teaspoon)

Directions:

  1. Grate or shred the carrots finely.
  2. Put the carrots into a small pan with a tight fitting lid, with the butter or olive oil and salt.
  3. Turn the heat up to medium, and put the lid on. Let it steam-cook in the pan until the carrot is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir to let any excess moisture evaporate.
  4. Mash up with a fork, or pass through a sieve if you want a very smooth puree.

Using silicone mini-bento cups for baking

The flower-shaped muffins were baked in silicone muffin trays that I got from a French company called Patishop. They make the most wonderfully detailed molds for baking and making chocolates. I’m sure I’ll talk more about them in future posts here or on Just Hungry.

I also tried baking a couple in some silicone bento cups, and that turnd out well too. This is a Barbapapa themed cup that I got in Japan:

barbapapacup.jpg

The Barbapapa face came out very nicely on the bottom of the muffin.

ramp_carrot_muffins2.jpg

If you do use bento cups for baking, make sure they are made of silicone or other heat-resistant material. Most bento cups are not heat-resistant, and may turn into a nasty mess if they are exposed to oven baking! That’s why I prefer to stick to silicone for my bento cups, or use silicone cupcake/muffin cups as bento cups.

Ramps vs. ramsons

Ramps and ramsons are very similar in flavor, and you can use either one for the pesto here. Ramps have a stem that looks like a little green onion or baby leek while ramsons have a thinner stem. Both have wide, smooth leaves that look like lily-of-the-valley leaves, and both are called wild garlic, wild leek, spring onion and so on. In French they are called ail de bois or “garlic of the woods”, and in German they’re Bärlauch or “bear leek”, apparently because the wild bears that used to roam the forests loved them. Bärlauch is very popular here in Switzerland.

(for search engine purposes)

By Makiko Itoh

Published: May 17, 2010

Type: muffins, baking, vegetarian

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

24 comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

This post came at the perfect time for me! I just moved, so my kitchen was out of sorts for a while. My kitchenaid stand mixer is now back on the prowl and I was just looking for something new and fun to make...enter your recipe! These look super tasty, and the molds are very pretty. I haven't tried ramp before, but it seems like something I would really like.

Do you think you could add one of those buttons at the bottom of your posts that I can click to share a link to this page on facebook? I sometimes do the cut and paste thing in emails to my friends, but the facebook buttons make it really quick. I don't know how hard it is to add that to your site (or if you are even interested in doing so), but I know I'd love it! Just a thought =)

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

Hi Sophie, if you click the ShareThis link (the one with the green icon) at the bottom of the post, you should see a menu pop up that allows you to share the posts in all kinds of ways.

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

Yay! The woods near my house are filled with er...rampantly spreading ramps (well, wild garlic) so I will definitely be making the pesto, if not the muffins too. Seriously, the oniony-garlicky scent as you walk through the woods is so overpowering; it's just a good job I love the smell, and the taste!

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

Just because baby food is home made it doesn't stop it from being baby food Maki. I always made my own baby food for my son, and I used to have to make a large pot of it because both his father and I loved it. It would be frowned upon these days, as it contained both butter and salt, but it was delicious. Always a green (silverbeet or runner beans), an orange/yellow (buttercup squash or sweet potato), and a white (potato) vegetable mushed up together with butter and salt. Oh yum. I wonder if muffins made from it would be good?

I do pity babies who have to eat that stuff in a jar.

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

I meant to say baby food from a jar is what I've never had, though the reason why my mother didn't feed it to me was because she didn't have the budget for it when I was a baby. My younger sisters got some jar baby food if I remember correctly.

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

Hah. I'm not sure it was even available in New Zealand when I was a baby! A mouli was a standard kitchen item in those days, just for baby food.

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

I don't think you were too far off mark, apparently babies now are not getting enough fat in their diets. I do plan on making my own baby food, eventually when I have a child, much like you made for your son.

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

These muffins looks delicious, I love the Barbapapa face!!! Indeed, it is great that wild garlic is only available for a month or so, it is so good to actually look forward to eating it again next spring!

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

maki! you say to add cream and buttermilk... but how much and what type of cream? =]

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

Oops, the cream was left over from a previous incarnation of the recipes, but I found it wasn't really needed, so it's just buttermilk (corrected now)

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

Oh my goodness, these look amazing. Thank you so much for your recipe and these fantastic photos. I cannot wait to try these out myself. I bet I can get a lot of kids to fall in love with these.

The online casino here is the best that there is for blackjack and the casino sounds make you feel as if you are gambling in a real casino.

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

What a shame last week was the last week when ramps(didn't know they were called this)/wild garlic was available to me for the year.
I'll be sure to remember this recipe for 2011.
This week we start getting 'wet' garlic - what I call 'ajos tiernos' (tender garlic) in Spanish. Mmmmm....

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

I live in Dallas (the 4th largest metro area in the USA) and I could not find ramps anywhere!
However, the carrot muffins were awesome - thank you!

I LOVE the sunflower ones,

I LOVE the sunflower ones, so cute! I want a mould like that.

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

hi..I'm from japan and my english is not that great
Just started cooking, could u just tell me what Tbs. and tsp. stands for ?
thanks...great job with the site XD

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

Tbs = tablespoon = 大さじ

tsp = teaspoon = 小さじ 

です ^_^

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

I wonder if garlic shoots (like these: http://www.sdanbo.com/images/cp3.gif) would work in the place of ramps? We get them in the spring here in Australia at the Asian grocery stores (and sometimes the greengrocers)...

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

If I am not mistaken, they are known as garlic chives in the US and nira in Japanese. Flavor wise they would work, though they make be more strongly garlicky than ramps. Give them a go and let us know how it came out!

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

Do you know if Patishop ships to the U.S. and how much it would cost? Thanks.

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

If you find out let me know!

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

I am in the US and grew up eating ramps in West Virginia, and never heard them called garlic chives, just ramps (although garlic chives sound great). I think the person in Dallas might be in too warm a climate to find them unless they were shipped in. Now that I am not in WV, I try to go home and eat them in season, but if I can't and have a strong, strong craving I will sautee some spinach and a lot of garlic together to try and make up for it. I also think our ramps must taste a bit stronger, in some way. They do not have the burn garlic sometimes can, but they sure aren't mild. I love ramps! ;) I love the idea of trying them in a bread.

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

=D These look really yummy. I love carrots and the ramp pesto muffins have such a beautiful color! I've never made pesto as I don't have a food processor but I think this recipe definitely upped my determination to beg my parents for one. =) However, I do have a question about the muffin recipes. I've heard of buttermilk being used in muffin recipes but never yogurt. Can you explain what kind of yogurt would be needed and why it works in the recipe? I'm assuming you're talking about the original non-fat yogurt or greek yogurt and while I have never tasted greek yogurt, I do find the latter to be tart. Wouldn't that mess with the taste? Also, wouldn't freezing the muffins and then defrosting the muffins make them soggy? I've also never heard of ramps but I think most pesto is made of pinenuts and basil so I was wondering if you had a recipe for homemade basil pesto. This leads to me wondering if there is such thing as onion pesto and if it would taste good...
Sorry about all the questions, but I'm only beginning to learn the ways of the kitchen so excuse my ignorance ^-^

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

former* ^_^ sorries!

Re: Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot ...

dear Maki, hope you are well.

I am a hillbilly by heritage and dig ramps every year to celebrate. I cook them with potatoes or ham, or add them to split-pea soup or to eggs. They don't keep long. Ramp pesto is such a brilliant idea and a wonderful way to preserve them --freezes well-- and to keep ramps alive!

Meanwhile, Maki, I am reading Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being. It was longlisted for the Booker Prize just a few weeks ago. It is making me think of you, and I hope you might give it a read. Have you read My Year of Meats, also by Ozeki? think you would like it as well.

fond greetings from a longtime reader, Lynn

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.