oh spring, you have finally arrived. with spring, apparently in NY culinary circles (or more commonly in West Virginia) comes ramps, wild leeks, Allium tricoccum. Super pungent wild member of the allium fammily, tastes like a garlicky spring onion. I'd never eaten them before, but I'm seduced. Apparently its not possible (or preferred) to cultivate them, so they must be hunted on semi-wild lands which, naturally makes them cost more. I'm sure I paid too much for a wild plant that i could find if I only had a place to look, but alas, i don't. They're only available a few weeks a year, which is now, at the Park Slope Co-Op, or from the nice meat-sellers at the Prospect Park farmer's market (i think it's these guys: www.dinesfarms.net) maybe some other places. I jumped on a bunch from the maple sausage guys at PPk (another temptation for another post); thought i could find them growing wild in Prospect Park (fail), and had to buy them again at the Co-op today. Thought I'd post recipies:
Spaghetti with Ramps - this seems to be one of the more common recipes i saw, so i made my own adaptation - sauteed chopped ramps in olive oil (yep, the whole plant) tossed w/ hot (drained but not shaken) pasta, a hunk of goat cheese swirled around to melt onto the pasta, salt, pepper. Good but lacking sparkle, some lemon, red pepper flake might help, and maybe some butter to add some fat to dilute the ramps (does that work?).
Avocado-Ramp Potato Salad - this for dinner tonight w/ homemade blackbean cheeseburgers (it's hot almost like summer here i wanted picnic food). very pungent! with garlic instead of ramps, this is my favorite pasta salad dressing. about 4 side servings.
put 1 lb potatoes on to boil
mash 1 avocado in a large bowl, dress with juice of 1 lime (or lemon), ~1/2 C olive oil
fine chop root end and stems of about 5 ramps & toss in bowl
add fistful of basil, finely chopped & ~1tbsp salt (way more than you think you'd need but the avacado seems to want it), hearty grinds of pepper. stir, let sit while potatoes are cooking.
when potatoes are fork tender, drain and chop in to bite size pieces, add hot to avaocado dressing.
mix potatoes & dressing w/ spatula. season to taste w/ S+P.
now, you can dress with any number of additions; we put in sugar snap peas, feta, capers.
other good additions might include artichoke hearts, tomatoes, good tuna chunks, blanched green beans, pickles, pickled beets? pickled okra? Anything with flavor strong or different enough to combat the ramps. if you wanted milder flavor, you could saute the ramps, i'm sure that'd help at least a little bit, but part of their charm i think is that they're stinky.
serve and kiss the person you're eating with because they have ramp breath, too. it doesn't matter.
apparently, according to JR, the WVA way to eat them is to fry them in bacon grease (like everything else), but we haven't really committed to a baconatarian lifestyle yet. they seem to be often eaten with hashbrowns & eggs, which sounds like an awesome breakfast, too.
any other suggestions? i've got a few left!
p.s. - photo by Dave Smooth, naturally.