I would love to forage for ramps one day. I would do it more for the photo opportunity than for the fun of digging around the wet floor of the woods. I imagine the sun coming through the trees and hitting the little patches of graceful ramp leaves and how beautiful that would be.
I wonder how many times I might have walked over a crop playing in the woods as a child. My grandfather, a farmer, never talked about ramps or brought any home from the woods around the farm like he did persimmons and papaws. That leads me to believe ramps didn’t grow in that part of rural Kentucky. I had never heard of the precious wild spring onions until I was already grown.
And truthfully, I didn’t pay much attention when I did hear about them - at first. It’s one of those things in life that might stay on the periphery of your consciousness, then one day come into full focus. That’s when my devotion set in.
Ramps have a cult following. Here’s why: they grow wild (intrigue), they have a short season (rare) and they are in short supply (coveted). It’s as much these reasons as their flavor profile that has made them so hot in recent years. Though they are wild onions, I often forget that and call them wild garlic. The flavor suggests a hybrid of the two. It’s strong.
The leaves are what I really love about ramps. Otherwise, I would stick to my favorite green onion, the leek. Ramp leaves are beautiful. They’re long and triangular and elegant. You could use a small bunch to fan yourself, if temperatures were high in late April, early May. The bulbs are like a regular green onion, small, pungent. But the leaves are hearty in volume, delicate in texture, and can be prepared in countless ways. Their generous length means you can julienne them lengthwise and toss them with string pasta, like the recipe here.
It’s been so rainy here lately that I have skipped the farmers market, knowing that I was dangling on the edge of ramp season. This week, I scored a pound from a friend who had hoarded more than his share in his refrigerator. I took it as a sign that I should go ahead and share this recipe, despite being late in the season. I hope fate is as kind to you this weekend.
1 pound Jovial Gluten Free Tagliatelle or other string pasta of your choice
Butternut squash, about 1 pound
Ramps, 1 pound leaves and bulbs
Simple Mills Grain free Rosemary and sea salt crackers, 1 cup
Or substitute 1 cup any GF breadcrumbs + 1 tablespoon minced
rosemary + 1 teaspoon sea salt + 1 teaspoon olive oil
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, finely minced.
Juice and zest of one lemon
¼ gram or generous pinch saffron, softened in half inch of warm water
1 ½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
Preheat oven to 425 and slice the squash lengthwise in half. Spray a baking sheet with oil and lay the squash cut side down. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes or until soft. This can be done a day or two in advance.
Remove from the oven and scoop out and discard the seeds. Scoop the flesh into a blender and add half cup of the vegetable stock. Process until smooth.
Prep the Ramps
Cut and discard the thin stems, separating the white bulbs from the green leaves. Wash and dry both well. Finely mince the bulbs (this can be done super fast in a small food processor.) Set aside.
Julienne the leaves into long strips. Set aside.
Prep the Breadcrumbs
If you’re using the Simple Mills Rosemary crackers, process them into fine crumbs.
If you’re using gluten free breadcrumbs, toss them with the rosemary, lemon zest and olive oil and toast for a minute in a sauté pan on medium heat. Set aside.
Make the Sauce
Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat a skillet to medium high and put in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute the ramp greens until they have wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove to a plate.
Add the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté 2 tablespoons of the minced ramp bulbs (reserve the others for another use) and 2 garlic cloves until soft, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the lemon juice/zest and the saffron/soaking liquid. Add the pureed squash and 1 cup of vegetable stock. Reserve the remaining half-cup of broth to thin out the sauce to your liking. Add the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
Stir in the sautéed ramp greens. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook 10 minutes or per the package instructions.
Remove the pasta with a slotted spoon to the sauce. Coat well with the sauce.
Garnish with the rosemary breadcrumbs.
Note about the pasta:
I used Jovial’s gluten free brown rice tagliatelle (made with eggs), because I wanted a pasta that would accommodate the long strands of ramp leaves. You can use any string pasta, of course. Jovial’s tagliatelle is as good as the handmade pappardelle I used to buy for this dish.
Note about the sauce:
The butternut squash gives this sauce structure and body. But it will thicken quickly, especially if reheated. You can add in extra vegetable stock to thin it out, if you like. Or even a little water.
Note about the breadcrumbs:
These are here purely for a textural punch and can be left out if you want. I’ve recently started keeping Simple Mills almond flour crackers (the rosemary is my current favorite) in the house at all times and discovered one night they make great breadcrumbs, with an easy whirl in the food processor. You can use any brand of gluten free breadcrumb and toast them with some chopped rosemary, lemon zest, sea salt and olive oil.
Note about Saffron:
Saffron is the arguably the most exotic and beautiful spice in the world. Words defy explanation of its flavor because there is no comparison. Its price point reflects its perceived value. It is beloved.
When cooking with saffron, you want to crush it between your fingertips and then soften it a bit in some liquid before adding it to a dish. A tiny bit of warm water or stock for three or four minutes is sufficient. Add the soaking liquid along with it. And never leave a single speck of it unused.
Click the link below to print the recipe:
There is no way the crazy obsessive cook in me is going to sit still during a two month “elimination” diet and be content eating plain food. I will instead finagle and manipulate ingredients until I get somewhere close to the flavor and textures of the foods I have committed to avoid.
I watched in envy at a restaurant the other day as a friend ate a bowl of rice noodles with peanut satay sauce. I love the way noodles absorb the creaminess of the traditional Indonesian sauce of peanut butter, ginger, lime and soy sauce. The dish is an exotic cousin to one of my other old favorites: fettucini alfredo.
Fortunately, it’s not that hard to mimic a creamy satay sauce with allergen free ingredients using any of the other nut or seed butters on the market. I used a peanut free mixed nut butter from Trader Joe’s that I have grown to love. (Only $5.99 for a 12 ounce jar). You could substitute tahini, almond butter and so on. I used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
I feel pretty good about the anti inflammatory cast of this sauce: fresh ginger, garlic and lime or lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar. And cilantro as a garnish. These days, I treat cilantro like a leafy green instead of an herb finely minced to death. Just pile on a handful of the whole leaves.
When I am completely avoiding grains, I will enjoy this sauce with some stir-fried cabbage and leeks. The long julienned strands, caramelized until sweet, twirl on the fork like string pasta, and when necessary, bring satisfaction.
But today, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Mark Hyman’s elimination diet, which allows the occasional GF whole grain, I tossed the cabbage and sauce in with this new product: Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen noodles.
Ancient black rice is the new brown rice: supposedly higher in phytonutrients.
These noodles cook in 4 minutes and are delicate but not so much that they can’t stand up to the heavy sauce and cabbage. In fact, the pasta absorbed the sauce in exactly the way I had hoped and the dish turned out to prove my point: there is no need to sacrifice flavor and texture for good health.
Start with the cabbage and leeks
1 head of green cabbage, finely julienned in long strips (Or save time with a package of pre-cut cole slaw mix)
1 leek, finely julienned lengthwise
1 Tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
In a saute pan on medium high heat, melt the coconut oil and add the leeks. Leave them to begin to soften for about 5 minutes before adding the cabbage. Stir the two together and cover. Maintain the heat at medium so the cabbage doesn’t scorch, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook until the cabbage has caramelized, about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta and start the sauce.
Process in a blender until smooth:
1 cup nut or seed butter of your choice
Juice 2 limes or 1 lemon
3 inches fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup coconut aminos
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Taste and add more water if the sauce is too thick to pour. The amount of water will vary depending on the type of nut or seed butter you are using.
Also add more coconut aminos or salt to your liking.
When the cabbage and sauce are ready, drop one of the Forbidden Rice Ramen blocks into the water (one for each person) and set the timer for 4 minutes. Remove from the water and strain well.
Toss the noodles with a couple of tablespoons of the satay sauce and top with generous amounts of stir fried cabbage and cilantro. Finely sliced cucumbers and raw cashews are other favorite garnishes.
Here is a description of the Forbidden Rice noodles
prana is the common thread running through everything i love....the sun on my face...the sunlight through my camera.... breathing the ocean air... the sound of my breath...laughing with family + friends.
A cookbook no cook should be without