Ramps are also known as wild leeks is a wild onion native to North America. It has broad, smooth, light green leaves, often with deep purple tints on the lower stems, and a scallion-like stalk and bulb. Both the white lower leaf stalks and the broad green leaves are edible. It has a mild onion flavor if mixed into something like a risotto but just sautéed the flavor is stronger. I used the bulbs in place of onions in the risotto and sauteed the leaves and pureed them to be added at the end to give it the vibrant green color. If I had to make this again I would try to puree the leaves without sauteing them for a stronger ramp flavor. If ramps are not available where you live, you can buy it here.
|Ramp and peas risotto with roasted white asparagus|
8 oz ramps
1/4 cup fresh shelled green peas or frozen peas
1 cup arborio rice
3 to 4 cups of low sodium vegetable broth, simmering in a saucepan
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of dry red chili flakes (optional)
Kosher salt to taste
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Extra Parmesan cheese for the table
1. Clean the ramps just like you would scallions. Separate the leaves from the stems and bulbs. Thinly slice the white bulbs and the purple stems and set aside to be cooked with the rice. Chop the leaves and add it to a 3 quart heavy bottomed non-stick saucepan with 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. Sauté for a couple of minutes over medium low heat till they are just wilted. Remove and cool before pureeing.
2. In the same saucepan, add 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and extra virgin olive oil. Add the sliced ramps, and chili flakes if using and cook till they are translucent about 2 minutes. (It is important to ensure that they are not brown since they will change the color of the risotto).
3. Add the rice and sauté with the ramps till the grains of rice are well coated with the butter mixture and the rice is opaque. Add about ½ cup of simmering stock in the beginning and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding ¼ to ½ cup of stock at a time and keep stirring until the mixture is creamy and a bit loose. [Making risotto is a labor of love.] The rice should not become mushy and should have a slight bite to it. This process takes about 20 to 25 minutes. If you are using fresh peas, add to the rice halfway through the cooking. If you are using frozen peas, add it to the rice 5 minutes before you think the rice is ready. Add the ramp leaf puree and the grated parmesan cheese after the rice is cooked and stir in to the rice. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
4. Serve with an extra helping of parmesan cheese
Note: White asparagus is another vegetable available from April to June. It is a lot sweeter than its green cousin and very popular in continental northwestern Europe. I have roasted them at 425 F for 30 minutes with some olive oil, salt and pepper and served them as a side with the risotto. They were a great accompaniment.