It’s that time of year again! A beautiful abundant time where everything green shakes off the cold, hard winter and starts a loooong stretch towards the warm sun. Spring has sprung and nothing signifies that more than the appearance of our much beloved wild leek, the ramp! Their floppy, wide leaves practically invite you over to their sweet, stinky patches.
This year, I prepared my favorite recipes with ramps: pickles and pesto. Although, I think I need to branch out my old standards as this year I saw a few photos from friends who had made ramp kimchi and ramp kraut and ramp oil! I will definitely be putting those on my list for next year’s harvest!
There is just something so blissful on a truly deep level about being able to go out into the woods that surround you and not only being able to identify a certain plant out of the many varieties of green things that are growing there, but to be able to harvest that plant, take it home and enjoy it for dinner is simply amazing. Let’s all be thankful for such opportunities!!
By the way, if you are new to foraging for your food, I encourage you to seek multiple field guides for cross referencing photos and information about the plants you come across as some can be poisonous look-alikes! Better safe than sorry! And as always, make sure to share what you find, not only with other foragers but with the natural world that also depends on such plants for food. Make sure you only take a small portion of what you find! I know that is certainly hard to practice when you’re talking about something as delicious and as super seasonal as ramps, but just DO IT, okay? And for North-easterners, I found this article to be very important this year!
Ramp, Bacon and Fresh Ricotta Pizza
This pizza I made for my friend Katie and I after we both had long, hard weeks at work and it absolutely hit the spot!
- 1 batch pizza dough, recipe here
- 2-4 oz ramps, leaves and stems, rough chopped
- 8 oz bacon, cut into lardons
- 1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons good local honey
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill, lightly chopped
- 4-5 leaves fresh basil, cut into chiffonade
- salt, pepper and olive oil
For the Ricotta:
- 2 quarts good quality whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons good white wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. In a large pot, bring the milk, cream and salt to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow to sit for about a minute to let curdle. Strain into a sieve lined with cheesecloth and allow to drain until firm. I actually squeezed mine out and then added a bit of fresh cream back in until I reached the consistency that I wanted. Put into the refrigerator until the pizza is done.
In a skillet over medium heat, add the bacon lardons and begin to render. When most of the fat has been rendered and the bacon is beginning to crisp, add in the onions and ramps. Saute 2-3 minutes or until softened and translucent. Add the honey and vinegar to the pan and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until the liquid in the pan has evaporated. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Shape and stretch your pizza dough into a nice homemade looking circle on a baking sheet lightly dusted with flour or cornmeal or, alternatively, lightly oiled. Drizzle the dough with a little olive oil and parbake about 10 minutes before layering on the bacon, onion, ramp mixture. Continue to bake until the toppings are nice and hot and the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and dollop with the cold ricotta and sprinkle on the fresh herbs.
Cut into slices or squares and enjoy! We enjoyed our pizza with a green salad and some cold Sheldrake Point Rose!
- 1 quantity pickle brine, recipe here
- stems from approx. 1 lb. ramps
Pack stems with their bulbs into a clean quart sized ball jar. Pour boiling pickle brine over the ramps and close the lid. Place into the refrigerator for 24 hours or up to one week and then munch away as you please!
Ramp and Pumpkin Seed Pesto
- leaves from 1 lb. ramps
- 1 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- juice and zest of two lemons
- 1-2 cups good olive oil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- salt and pepper
Process everything but Parmigiano and olive oil in the workbowl of a food processor and process until roughly combined. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in enough olive oil that the mixture forms a smooth paste, scraping down the sides as you go. When smooth, transfer to a bowl and fold in the Parmigiano. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Happy Rampin’, y’all!