We are nearing the end of ramp season, and though I wasn’t able to find any in the wild (mostly due to lack of time to devote to the search) I have been able to buy some locally-foraged ramps from local grocery stores, and so I have, at last, bagged my white whale. They were a dream to work with, and though they wilted considerably in my hot Jeep on the way home, revived beautifully upon immersion in some icy cold water — which, since they were foraged, was a good idea anyway; they came, as many things from the woods do, complete with locally-foraged mud!
Ian’s foraging has been more successful than mine; this is probably because our weekends have been very busy, and his weekdays put him in a rural setting, while mine generally keep me close to home, cooking, cleaning and preparing for our new arrival in a few short months. He often finds things to snack on in the wilderness around his office, and has added to his list a plant he knew in his childhood as “frog bellies” (more properly known as orpine or sedum) as well as spruce, which he is currently making an infused vodka with, and something he’d almost considered his own white whale: cattail.
To me, orpine tastes like a combination of green pepper and snow peas; it’s a not-unpleasant fresh green taste that I could certainly see myself nibbling on while hiking in the woods. Spruce was too herbal and strangely textured for me to enjoy, but I look forward to seeing what kinds of cocktails Ian produces with his infused vodka. Cattail, I have yet to try personally, but Ian describes it as a salty cucumber taste with the texture of bamboo shoots as found in stir fry veggies.
Back to the ramps. Raw, in a pesto, they have a very sharp, grassy yet onion-y flavor that lends itself well to pasta, but the real “aha!” moment came when I tasted the creamed ramps, with a bite of tender, rare steak. This is a forageable that I will looking for next spring and every spring to come.
- 8 ounces ramp leaves, well-rinsed
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
- 1 ounce parmesan or ricotta salata, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend well. (It may be necessary to chop the ramp leaves before processing.) Add more olive oil, if necessary, to reach a smooth consistency. Toss with pasta of your choice.
Creamed Spinach and Ramps
- 8 ounces ramp greens, chopped
- 8 ounces spinach (fresh, frozen or canned)
- 2 cups shredded cheddar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter
- salt and black pepper as desired
In a saute pan, melt butter. Add ramp greens and spinach and saute until softened. Add milk and cheese, and stir to combine until cheese has melted. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with your favorite protein — it goes particularly well with steak.
For more recipes from my kitchen to yours, please visit http://www.forkable.net.