Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spring Ramp-age

There just had to be a pun in the title...

After listening to all the hype about ramps, I finally got myself a nice bundle to experiment with. And now that I have cooked and eaten them, I can honestly say, they live up to the hype. They really are delicious little bites of Spring.

Aside: I'm fairly certain that I used to dig these up when I was younger. I may or may not have wandered into the "forest" (read very open tree-filled area) behind my grammar school during recess once or twice, and  I found and dug up what I called "baby onions".  I remember the smell of the "baby onions" and I'm fairly certain now that they were in fact ramps.

There is this "pizzette" at a new local wine bar that I am obsessed with. It comes on super crispy, very thin crust, and is topped with Manila clams, speck, and garlic. It is delicious! And I decided I should try to recreate it at home, and that this would be a perfect time to try to incorporate ramps in my cooking.
Step one: cook the clams
Ok so I couldn't find manilla clams, but I used some cherrystone clams and cut up the larger ones once cooked. And I did not cook them in gray dishwater. It just looks that way. I cooked them in white wine with garlic, salt, and oregano. Very tasty on their own.

A few of my lovely ramps.
I washed them thoroughly, removed the root ends, diced up the bulbs, and chopped up the greens. 
I sautéed the sliced bulbs in olive oil, and when just tender, I added the greens and a pinch of salt. Very simple. I put that aside and got ready to assemble my version of the pizzette.

I have mentioned before my trouble with breads and dough, mostly because I have no real experience making them. Since I couldn't think of a good substitute for the crisp crust/flatbread the wine bar used, I decided to go another way, and I used naan as my base.
Yes, naan is rather doughy, and while it is delicious by itself, I thought it would be even better with these toppings, and that it would not compete with the flavors I was placing on top of it.  So I went with it, and I must say it worked. (If you try this, make sure you do not buy the garlic naan! That would completely negate the use of the ramps.)

As I was using plain naan, I gave it a light brush with melted butter, and then piled it with the clams, speck (you can easily use prosciutto here instead), and cooked ramps, complete with any oil in the pan.
Just a few minutes under the broiler and it was ready.
And it was really good.
The ramps had a combination of onion and garlic flavor, so the dish almost tasted the same as the one in the wine bar, but at the same time it was slightly different, and I really enjoyed their subtle flavor.
Definitely worth trying at home, people!


Joe Ambrosino said...

Very nice young lady, right down to the use of naan.

Jennifer said...

I shall have to see if I can find ramps around here. This looks fantastic.