I really appreciate all your feedback! To calm any minds that may remain unsettled: don’t worry, I’m not changing anything.
It’s true that I had been thinking of swtiching formats completely to keep things fresh and turning into a Game of Thrones fanfic site, but thanks to you all, I think I’ve pretty much decided against that in favor of Buffy.
I kid! It will still be food along with me nattering on about shit. I’m glad to hear you enjoy the nattering, appreciative that you took the time to tell me so* and inspired that so many of you openly admit to loving big butts.
To thank you for all your kind words, I present you with the post you’ve been waiting for since the first crocus bulb peeped its purple head up through the newly-thawed ground: ramps.
*Except for those of you who didn’t. You know who you are.
Ramps: What are they? Why are they such a big hairy deal? Why do they cost $6.99 a bunch? Why did I buy two bunches in spite of that? Are they more or less overrated than fiddlehead ferns, which taste like cedar mulch?
Ramps are wild leeks; they look kinda like spring onions, smell like garlic and leave you with absolutely heinous breath. Farmer’s market purveyors obtain them by foraging, and you obtain them by bringing a taser to the farmer’s market at 5AM so you can take out the sous chefs from Per Se and Eleven Madison Park who are there trying to buy them all up.*
*Alternatively, you can get them from Fresh Direct and avoid the assault charges. Which is what I did, and I’m sure many people think I’m a poser for not schlepping to the Greenmarket via public transit with my recycled hemp tote. To which I say: I got to sleep in on Saturday and still got the goddamned ramps, so who’s laughing now?
Something about them causes foodie-type people to get their panties in a giant bunch and write paeans about the advent of springtime and growth and renewal and blah blah blah oh my god IT’S JUST A FUCKING ONION. In a number of states – many of them in the South, not that I am insinuating anything – they drive people so batty* they become convinced that ramp festivals featuring events like “outhouse races where teams from local business build rolling outhouses and power them down the main thoroughfare” are both fun and necessary.
Because nothing says “Springtime!” like parading ACTUAL BOXES OF SHIT down the High Street. These are not the workings of a sound mind, is all I’m saying.**
Won’t someone think of the children?
I’ve never bought them before, but this year I got a letter from the National Council of People Who Blather Online About Food telling me that my membership was in jeopardy; I didn’t even know I was a member, but the warning came certified mail so you know they’re serious.
So I paid out the ass for the damn ramps, and then had to figure out what to do with them. You can eat both the leafy part and the bulb, raw or cooked. I thought I’d save the bulbs for Brian to pickle, a popular treatment, and decided to try the leaves raw first. Ergo: savory ricotta fritters with ramp salsa verde. Or chimichurri.
Decide how exotic you want it to seem and go with that. Either way, you just mince up a bunch of ramp greens and slightly smaller bunches of mint and parsley leaves; add some lemon zest, pepper flakes and salt; stir in good olive oil and some red wine vinegar and leave the whole mess to meld for a while.
I briefly considered making fresh ricotta for the fritters but bailed on that even though it’s stupid easy; using ramps gives me enough cred for one meal. To really drive home the “springtime” thing, I sauteed some fresh English peas with a bit of shallot and folded them into a simple ricotta-egg-flour batter along with some grated parm, salt and pepper. I let the batter sit while a pot of veg oil heated up and dropped in heaping tablespoonsful.
I plopped the still-hot fritters into a pool of ramp salsa, kissed the plate up to Jesus and took a bite.
In answer to the questions posed above: no, ramps are NOT as overrated as fiddlehead ferns by virtue of the fact that they actually taste good. However, I remain somewhat puzzled as to the cause of the big hairy deal.
I mean, this was enjoyable – the fritters were surprisingly light but satisfying, and the salsa was bright and punchy. But I’m also pretty sure you could achieve the same flavor profile with mundane, non-foraged, cheaper ingredients like spring onions, scallions and actual garlic. I suppose we should still support their sale, as it keeps our nation’s many unemployed foragers working, but I am willing to openly admit that I don’t really get it. Maybe they’re more a symbolic thing, but if that’s the case I’d rather throw my weight behind asparagus.
I’ll say it again: I DON’T GET RAMPS. Go ahead and revoke my membership in the National Council if you want. I don’t care: I get enough tote bags from PBS fundraising drives anyway.
Ramp Salsa Verde
1 c. minced ramps (green leaves only)
1/2 c. mined mint leaves
1/2 c. minced flat parsley leaves
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
6 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Stir everything together. The end.
Savory Ricotta Fritters
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, minced
2/3 c. fresh shelled peas
1 c. whole milk ricotta
2 large eggs
2/3 c. AP flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. finely grated parmigiano cheese
Veg/canola oil for frying
Heat the butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add the shallot and peas; cook for 5-7 minutes, until the shallots are translucent and the peas are bright green. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, flour, salt and parm together until just combined, then fold in the peas and shallots. Set the batter aside while you get ready to fry.
Fill a heavy pot with 2-3 inches of oil and heat it to 340-360 degrees. Drop the fritter batter in by heaping spoonfuls Fry for 2-3 minutes until golden brown on one side, then flip and do the same to the other side. Remove the cooked fritters to a wire cooling rack with paper towels underneath to keep them from getting soggy.
Serve hot with the ramp salsa verde.