Wild Recipes

Ramp Pesto on Buttermilk-Brined Grilled Turkey Tenderloin

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As the first signs of Spring emerge across the Northeast, a certain wild allium begins to reveal its emerald-green leaves. Ramps, also known as wild leeks, bring a pungent, garlicky flavor that marks the end of winter and the start of Spring. Their ephemeral season (2-4 weeks, weather and moisture-dependent) demands quick action to collect, process and preserve ramps to a form that can be used time and time again. And in my mind, there’s no better way to showcase the robust flavors of ramps than a ramp pesto. Pairing this with wild turkey tenderloin, brined in rich buttermilk, creates a dish that encapsulates the essence of springtime foraging and Spring thunder that I, as well as many others, love deeply. A note on foraging ramps: remember to harvest sustainably; take only what you need and leave the bulbs undisturbed to ensure future harvests.

Serves: 2, or 12 as an appetizer
Time to prepare: 4 hours
Time to cook: 15 minutes

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Ramp Pesto on Buttermilk-Brined Grilled Turkey Tenderloin

Recipe by Brandon Dale
0.0 from 0 votes
Course: Wild Recipes


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This dish is more than a meal; it’s a celebration of the fleeting flavors of spring and the traditions of wild foraging. The tangy, tender turkey complemented by the bold, fresh ramp pesto creates the perfect balance to enjoy the flavors of the spring. Whether enjoyed in the backyard with friends or as a centerpiece, this recipe is a tribute to the bounty of nature and the joy of seasonal cooking.

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  • Ramp Pesto
  • 2 cups fresh ramp leaves (washed and dried)

  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • Juice of one lemon

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Turkey Tenderloin
  • 2 turkey tenderloins

  • 2 cups buttermilk

  • 2 cloves garlic (smashed)

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Fresh herbs (such as thyme or rosemary)


  • Ramp Pesto
  • Blanch the ramp leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds. This step preserves their vibrant color. Immediately transfer them to an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
  • In a food processor, combine the blanched ramp leaves, pecans, grated Parmesan, garlic cloves, and lemon juice. Pulse until the mixture is coarse.
  • With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto reaches a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Store your ramp pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a week, and can be frozen and thawed for later use.
  • Turkey Tenderloin
  • In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, smashed garlic, salt, sugar, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Add fresh herbs for an aromatic touch.
  • Submerge the turkey tenderloins in the buttermilk mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for maximum tenderness.
  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Add copious layer of black pepper and herbs to surface of tenderloin.
  • Grill the tenderloins for about 6-8 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165° F.
  • Let the grilled tenderloins rest for 5 minutes before slicing to retain their juices.
  • To serve, slice the grilled turkey tenderloin and arrange on serving platter. Add a generous spoon the ramp pesto on each turkey slice. Garnish with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.

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Brandon Dale

Brandon grew up in South Louisiana camping, kayaking, hunting and fishing, and he is an avid fly-fisherman and hunter. Now living in NYC for graduate and medical school, he finds solace in the woods and waters of the Upstate NY, Hudson Valley, Long Island and Vermont.

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