Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Roasted New Potatoes tossed with Ramps


"Ramp season is here!" I shouted, bursting through the front door and barreling past the kitchen into the living room, where I triumphantly thrust my hefty bunches of ramps, one in each hand, into the air like the trophies they were.


"Yeah! Ramp season!" S said enthusiastically, while our roommates looked bewildered by the sight of me, laden with overflowing canvas bags full of greenery from the market, thrusting leafy topped tangles of roots above my head in our living room. 


Ramps, Ramsons, or Spring Onions, are a lovely green little plant, with wide flat leaves growing above ground, and little white bulbs underneath, both parts are edible. They grow wild, are primarily a foraged food, and have a very, very short season- from late April to early June here in New York. 


On Saturday I was working on a shoot near Gramercy Park when I noticed the Union Square Market was in full swing. I made a mental note to check it out afterwards, while quietly, at the back of my mind, without too much faith, hoping one of the stands might have one of my coveted springtime foods.


It's not just ramps with a short but delectable season occurring right now. There's also fiddlehead ferns, my absolute favorite foraged vegetable. Perhaps no taste reminds me of Washington State quite like the first bite of a crisp, perfectly sauteed fiddlehead freshly foraged from some shady fern-covered corner of the forest. Nearly every time I've eaten fiddleheads has been after I've found them growing wild, usually while not planning on foraging for fiddleheads at all, but occasionally they can be found at a farmers market. Then there are the garlic scapes.  Oh, garlic scapes, my creamy, curly, pale green beau. I could write odes to the delicate, creamy, delightful taste of the garlic scape. So wonderful tasting, and so lovely to look upon. 


There were no scapes or fiddleheads to be seen at the market (it may be a bit early for scapes yet), but about halfway through my wander, once I had acquired some rainbow carrots and a large head of broccoli rabe (currently sitting on my counter, waiting to be blanched and sauteed after I write this), I came across a stand selling potatoes and gourmet potato chips, and while I was munching my way through each of their flavor samples, I noticed a pile of green things at the back of the tent. A pile of green leafy things. With pinkish stalks and white bulbs. Ramps! 


I immediately bought two bunches and hurried home to proclaim my excitement to S and our roommates. That night I made this dish. I've made a lot of claims about the simplicity of my recipes before but this may truly be the easiest recipe I have ever posted with the tastiest results. 
  

This is a lovely side dish, a, the ramps may look leafy and salad-y, but they pack a lovely sharp punch, reminiscent of young garlic, which reminds me of the spicy onion grass my neighbors and I used to pick and munch on in our backyards as children. They're a lovely contrast to the creamy, crisp outside, soft inside new potatoes. This is a fantastic spring dish, and a great accompaniment to lunch or dinner.



5 oz Ramps
1.5 lbs New Potatoes (or fingerlings, or small red potatoes)
2 tbsp + 2 tsp tbsp Olive Oil, separated 
Salt
Pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. 
Chop potatoes into small 1/2 inch cubes, toss with 2 tbsp olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Spread out on a oiled baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes, stir potatoes around, then roast another 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are golden brown and crisp on the outside.

While the potatoes roast wash the ramps, cut off any roots and throw away, then cut the white bulbs off the green leaves, and save both parts. 
Chop the white bulbs. Early in the season these will be small and thin, simply cutting them in half will do. Later in ramp season the bulbs will be larger and rounder, like a small shallot, those you can chop a bit finer as they have a stronger taste.

Cut across the leaves, slicing them into 1/2 inch thick ribbons. Keep bulbs and leaves separate.

In the last 5-10 minutes of potato roasting, pour 2 tsp olive oil into a skillet and heat over medium  heat, once the oil is hot, add the sliced up ramp bulbs and cook until transparent, about two minutes. Add the sliced ramp leaves and cook another two minutes until the leaves and bulbs are soft. 

Remove potatoes from oven and transfer to a large mixing bowl, add the ramps and gently mix or toss to combine. 
Serve with a bit of coarse salt and fresh ground pepper sprinkled on each serving. Enjoy!



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