More ramps? Yes, just one more little recipe, I promise. This one begged to be recorded, since I have now made it three times over. Preserving ramps is wonderful, but using them fresh from the ground is far more desirable. I know I'll probably loose a few "likes" and maybe a few notices to unsubscribe from my newsletter. Such is the nature of tossing ramps around like they are something everyone can get. As long as I am able to sustainably acquire ramps each spring, I will continue to do so, and the ramp recipes will continue. But unlike my recent ramp jam, in this recipe you can certainly substitute some green onions in place of the ramps. In fact, green onions is what I normally use for this dish during the rest of the year, and they are no less delicious. Foraging for wild edibles is definitely a little hobby of mine. As long as I can remember I have been interested in this topic. As a young girl I would comb through books on wildflowers and herbs and spend countless hours in any patch of woods I could find. Not much has changed after growing up a bit, except for the fact that two little boys are now normally running ahead or trailing a bit behind me. My oldest says, "I'll help you find flowers and mushrooms, Mama." Although we still haven't been successful in the mushroom department yet. All of our hard work is normally rewarded with a little picnic by the river. Yesterday we even got to pull our shoes off and kick around in the cool water, under a sun filled sky. We headed back home wet, covered in mud, but drenched in happiness.
--Although it is not required, having a well seasoned cast iron pan for this recipe would help tremendously. I have amassed a small fortune of vintage cast iron pans in the last few months, and I can tell you they have made a huge difference in the food I cook. Because of this, I have gotten rid of all my non-stick pans. It is cast iron all the time now, and the few remaining all-clads seem to be getting a little jealous.
Sautéed Vegetables with Ramps
3-4 large carrots
1 bunch of asparagus
8-9 ramp bulbs (or subsitute green onions)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup white wine
ground black pepper to taste
Peel and cut the carrots into 3-inch batons. Peel the woody ends of the asparagus and slice diagonally into 3-inch pieces. Diagonally slice the ramps, both the bulb and the greens. Heat the 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the carrots and asparagus and saute until they are slightly browned and have a vibrant color, about 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar and 1/3 cup of white wine and cook until the wine has evaporated. Add the ramps and continue to cook until they are wilted and fragrant. Taste a carrot to see if you need any more salt and add a few cracks of black pepper. Serve warm.
Foraging for Wild Edibles
This last weekend I decided to take a class on wild edibles. It was the first in a three part series that will take place over the next few months. We walked for a few hours on the Duke Farm property, identifying wildflowers and what most people would consider weeds. We got to taste everything except the stinging nettles (pictured above). With nettles you have to dry or cook the leaves before eating them, because they have little spikes all over their stems and leaves that contain formic acid. I have never used nettles before, but I feel a little more comfortable with them, now that I know what they look like. Bring along a pair of gloves if you are going to pick some. Nettle stings, although not very long in duration, are really uncomfortable. Sort of like a mild bee sting.
I am always amazed at how many species of hawks there are in this area. I'm not exactly sure which this one is, but she wasn't at all disturbed by the presence of people. They are beautiful, but I can't help but be a nervous Mama. Our chickens will definitely need to have supervised free range time each day.
Some wild watercress, but not enough to collect for a salad. I'll definitely be looking for more of this!
The leaves and flowers of violets are edible. They make a beautiful addition to salads. The jack-in-the-pulpit (above right) has edible roots, but they are mostly just pretty to look at. This one looks like it got nibbled on by something.
The little white flowers (pictured above), belong to the garlic mustard plant. This invasive weed was actually one of my favorites we tasted during our class. The raw leaves were delicious, having a slightly bitter and sharp peppery flavor. I have heard of people making a pesto from garlic mustard, but I'm most looking forward to having some in a tender green salad. One of the things we learn about this class was that early bitter spring greens like garlic mustard and dandelion, are actually digestive stimulants. They give your system a kick into gear, and are great to eat before consuming a very large meal.
This little doe I found grazing around in the woods later that day. She didn't seem all that bothered by me, and she let me get close enough for a picture. Beautiful creatures, but I also secretly wish my father is successful at hunting this year, so I can add some deer meat to my freezer.
Two days after my class I took a little walk down by the river and grabbed of few of the things I learned about. The first dish I made was some scrambled eggs with greens, garnished with field garlic and violets. I threw in a few of my hydroponic tomatoes because they are still growing great! I'm really looking forward to trying out more of these spring edibles in other ways. And in a few weeks I will attend the second class, and hopefully learn a whole bunch of new edibles.