Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ramp Risotto – May 3, 2013

Ramps or wild scallions grow wild in the mountains and woods of Kentucky, but until this year, I had never seen one.  My friend Cindy changed that this year by planting some in our community garden so I was able to see them grow and then offering me a bag full to use in cooking.  Ramps are mostly simply put a combination of onion and garlic all in one plant.  They have a small bulb that is a bit larger than a green onion and a wide leaf that looks like lily of the valley.  The bulb are very strong tasting but the leaves can be eaten as well and have a much milder taste.  Ramps go particularly well with eggs, so they are a great addition for omelets and frittatas.  I also discovered many recipes for wilted ramps with fried eggs.

I decided to go another route.  I love to make risotto and there are many great risotto recipes for the Spring when delicate things like mushrooms, peas and fresh herbs are first growing.  I settled on a recipe from a famous restaurant in Portland which was fresh and delicious.  We ate it alone the first night and with scallops the second evening.

Lemon Ramp Risotto

1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
2 T. butter
1 cup sliced ramps, thoroughly cleaned and the white and green parts divided
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Parmesan Reggiano 
Salt and black pepper
In a small saucepan bring broth to a simmer. Place a heavy bottomed, tall-sided pan over medium heat and add one tablespoon butter and the sliced white portion of the ramps and sweat for two minutes until translucent.  Slightly increase the heat and add the rice, stirring frequently.  Cook for a few minutes until the rice is no longer opaque.
Add the white wine to the rice and cook until it has completely evaporated.  Lightly season the rice with salt, and then add enough hot stock to just barely cover the rice.  Stir, letting the rice absorb the liquid almost entirely before adding a small amount more.  The rice should be cooking at a moderate temperature and slowly bubbling as you continue stirring and adding liquid.  This will take about 15 minutes total.
Cook for a minute or two longer, then add the remaining butter, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Stir in the ramp greens and season the risotto with more salt and fresh black pepper. Adjust the consistency with a little more hot stock if necessary.  Grate some Parmesan into the risotto and gently give it one or two stirs to incorporate the cheese without creating a stringy texture.  Serve immediately.

It’s good to know that since these wild veggies only come around once a year, you can freeze the bulbs and use throughout the year to season.  While I was doing that with the bulbs, I had another idea.  We have kale greens just coming in.  I decided rather than sauté onions and garlic before adding the kale to wilt, I’d put my ramp greens to use.  I heated olive oil in a pan, tossed in chopped kale and ramp greens and stir fried.  I tossed in salt with red and black pepper at the end and had a great mess of greens with one less step than usual
Happy hunting for ramps in your area.  I promise they’re worth the search.

1 comment:

  1. Can I still have some of your ramps or have I missed the boat?