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Spring Radish Salad

Spring Radish Salad

Spring Radish Salad

 

1 bunch of red radishes, about 1 1/2 cups finely chopped (choose a variety that suits your taste)

1/2 bunch of parsley, about 1/2 cup finely chopped

1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 pinch of pepper

2 pinches of salt

 

Wash the radishes and remove the stems and any long roots. Finely cube the radishes into tiny pieces.

Wash the parsley and gently shake it or pat it dry. Finely mince the parsley. Place the cubed radishes and minced parsley in a small salad bowl. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss gently. Add the olive oil and toss again. Taste the salad and make adjustments to your liking. (I sometimes add a little bit more lemon juice and salt).

Spring Ragout of Artichoke Hearts, Fava Beans, Peas and Baby Turnips

Spring Ragout of Artichoke Hearts, Fava Beans, Peas and Baby Turnips

Spring Ragout of Artichoke Hearts, Fava Beans, Peas and Baby Turnips

A ragout is basically a well-seasoned stew. This one takes its flavor from the tarragon, which brings out the best in the array of seasonal vegetables.

 

8 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled

2 pounds fresh fava beans in pods, shelled

Ice cubes

4 T. nonhydrogenated margarine (divided)

4 trimmed and cooked artichoke hearts, halved or quartered, depending on size (see note)

12 baby turnips, peeled

1 cup vegetable broth

1 pound English peas in pods, shelled (or 1 cup frozen, thawed)

2 tsp. coarsely chopped fresh tarragon

1 T. finely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

 

Put the garlic in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring slowly to a boil over low-medium heat, then drain. Slip the skins off each clove and set aside in a bowl. Refill the saucepan with water and return to a boil over high heat. Drop the fava beans into the boiling water for 1 minute. Immediately drain in a colander and transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water. Then peel the beans. Reserve until needed. Melt half of the margarine in a sauté pan over a medium heat. Once it starts to froth, add the artichoke pieces, turnips and peeled garlic, and sauté until the artichoke pieces become flecked with golden-brown color. Add the vegetable broth and peas, then cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover, scatter with the beans and herbs, and shake gently to mix; there should be very little liquid remaining in the pan. If it still looks too wet, increase the heat to high and continue to shake the pan. Add the reserved margarine to form a small amount of sauce. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and freshly ground pepper as needed. Serve at once.

Note: To prepare artichoke hearts, cut off and discard all but 1 inch of the stem. Peel remaining stem, rubbing cut artichoke flesh with lemon to avoid discoloring. Remove tough outer leaves (discard, or reserve for steaming and eating separately) until you get to the tender, slightly yellow leaves. Pull off the soft leaves to reveal the fuzzy choke. Using a spoon, scoop out the choke and discard, rubbing exposed flesh with more lemon. Use a paring knife to cut off any tough, dark green parts clinging to the outside of the heart. In a stainless steel or enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch oven filled with a couple of inches of water and lined with a steamer insert, steam artichoke hearts until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Fritto Misto of Fiddleheads, Ramps and Asparagus with Meyer Lemon Aioli

Fritto Misto of Fiddleheads, Ramps and Asparagus with Meyer Lemon Aioli

Fritto Misto of Fiddleheads, Ramps and Asparagus with Meyer Lemon Aioli

 

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Finely grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon

2 T. fresh Meyer lemon juice

4 quarts peanut or vegetable oil

3 C. unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

1 large egg

2 C. buttermilk

1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 to 2 pounds mixed fiddleheads, ramps (or green onions) and asparagus, cleaned and patted dry

 

Place the oil in a 6- to 8-quart pot and heat it to 375°F. Sift together the all-purpose and cake flours and place them in a wide bowl or on a platter. Whisk together the egg, buttermilk, salt, and pepper in a large shallow bowl. While the oil is healing, prepare the vegetables, making sure that they are dry before coating. To avoid gluey fingers, use one hand for wet dipping and the other for dry. Working with a few pieces of the vegetables at a time, dip them into the buttermilk mixture, coating them well. Lift them out, letting the excess buttermilk drip off, then drop them into the flour mixture, working quickly to coat them evenly with the flour. Shake off any excess flour and lay the vegetables in a single layer on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Continue until all die vegetables are coated. When the oil is hot, carefully add the vegetables to the pot but do not overcrowd. Fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Give the vegetables a stir as they fry, turning any that are browning unevenly. Using a slotted spoon or flat strainer, remove the vegetables and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Hold in a warm place while frying the rest of the vegetables. Be sure to bring the oil back up to temperature before adding the next batch. Serve warm with the Meyer Lemon Aioli.   Note: Coating 20-25 minutes ahead of time makes the coating adhere better when frying.

 

Meyer Lemon Aioli

 

½ C. EVOO

½ C. Olive Oil

1 lg. Garlic Clove

1 tsp. Salt

1 Egg

1 Egg Yolk

Zest from Meyer Lemon

2 T. fresh Meyer Lemon Juice

 

Combine the extra virgin olive oil and the pure olive oil in a measuring cup with a spout. Place the garlic and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the garlic is finely minced and beginning to liquefy. Add the whole egg and egg yolk. Process for 30 seconds. With the machine running, slowly begin to drizzle in the oil. As the mixture thickens, the oil can be added a little more quickly. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and process briefly to mix in. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. If the aioli is too stiff, add water in ½ tsp. increments to thin.

Spring Vegetable Stew

Spring Vegetable Stew

Spring Vegetable Stew

The great thing about a stew is that you don’t have to be all that exact.  I’ve given measurements as a guide, but you could easily adapt this recipe to accommodate your personal preferences.

 

6 to 7 (12 ounces) baby artichokes

10 ounces shelled fava beans (from about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds unshelled fava beans)

8 ounces snap peas, ends trimmed

8 ounces shelled peas (from fresh or frozen)

handful of fiddlehead ferns (optional)

3 ounces pancetta or guanciale, thinly sliced

2 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over the finished dish

2 medium leeks (~ 1 heaping cup), thinly sliced (or spring onions)

1 3/4 C. vegetable stock or water

1 bunch of asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

2 to 3 T. mint, chopped

zest and juice of half a lemon

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

serve with grilled bread, rubbed with a clove of garlic, sprinkle with sea salt

 

To prepare the artichokes: Fill a bowl with cold water and lemon juice (the lemon prevents oxidation and blackening).  Slice the tips of the artichokes cross-wise to remove their pointed tops.  Peel off the tough outer leaves of the artichoke until you reach the pale, tender, lighter colored leaves.  Place the artichoke in the acidulated water.  Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Blanch the vegetables: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer.  Drop in the artichokes, cook until tender, about 8 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Slice the artichokes in half lengthwise. Prepare an ice water bath.  Drop the fava beans into the simmering water, cook 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop the beans into the ice water bath.  Slide the fava from their thick outer covering. Set aside. Drop the snap peas and fresh peas, if using, (if frozen you don’t need to blanch) into the simmering water, cook for a minute or two. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into the ice water bath.  Drain and set aside. Last, drop the fiddleheads, if using, into the simmering water (you’ll want to blanch these last since they turn the water a brownish color) and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into the ice water bath.  Drain and set aside. Making the stew: In a large, high-sided pan, heat the olive oil.  When hot, add the pancetta and cook until the fat is rendered.  Add the leeks and sauté until soft and lightly golden, about 5 minutes.  Add the blanched artichokes and stock, and simmer 5 minutes.  Add the asparagus, season with a little salt and pepper, and simmer another 3-5 minutes.  Add the peas, fava beans, and fiddleheads, and simmer another 3-5 minutes (all vegetables should be tender, but still have a bit of a bite).  Add the lemon zest and juice and fresh herbs, and stir to combine.  Taste and re-season with salt and pepper. To serve:  Drizzle with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil and serve with crusty bread.

Fritto Misto of Ramps, Asparagus, Fiddleheads with Citrus Mint Aioli

Fritto Misto of Ramps, Asparagus, Fiddleheads with Citrus Mint Aioli

Fritto Misto of Ramps, Asparagus, Fiddleheads with Citrus Mint Aioli

4 C. canola oil

2 C. all-purpose flour

¼ cup cornstarch

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

Zest of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lime

½- 1 cup ice cold club soda, diluted with 2 T. lemon juice

1 ½ to 2 pounds mixed fiddleheads, ramps (or green onions) and asparagus, cleaned and dried

Maldon salt, to season

Citrus Mint Aioli, to serve (recipe follows)

 

Place the oil in a 6- to 8-quart pot and heat it to 375ËšF. In a large bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and baking powder. Add salt and citrus zest and mix well. Slowly add in water or club soda until the consistency is like a loose pancake batter. Once the oil has come to temperature, working with a few pieces of the vegetables at a time, dip them into the batter, coating them well and letting the excess drip off, before adding to hot oil. Working in batches, place vegetables in oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pot and fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with maldon salt. Hold in a warm place while frying the rest of the vegetables. Be sure to bring the oil back up to temperature before adding the next batch. Serve warm with the citrus mint aioli.

 

Citrus Mint Aioli

 

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

¼ cup fresh mint, chopped

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Juice and zest of 1 lime

½ cup canola oil

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Place garlic, salt, egg and egg yolk in a blender and blend until smooth. Add mint and combine. Slowly stream in half the oil and then add citrus juice and zest and then continue to add the rest of the oil until thick and emulsified. Adjust with salt, if needed. Serve with fritto misto.

Ramp & Shrimp Grits

Ramp & Shrimp Grits

Ramp & Shrimp Grits

1 lb. Shrimp, shell on

¼ C. dry White Wine

1 Shallot, thinly sliced

1 ½ tsp. Salt

1 C. Quick-Cooking Grits

4 T. Butter

¼ tsp. Pepper

4 cloves Garlic, minced

2 tsp. Lemon Juice

½ C. Ramp Pesto

2 T. Crème Fraiche

2 T. fresh Chive, sliced in ½” pieces

 

Peel and devein the shrimp, saving the shells. Place the shrimp shells in a medium saucepan. Add the white wine, shallot, and 4 C. cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a bubbling simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the shells steep in the liquid for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid into a 4-cup measuring cup and discard the shells. Add enough cold water to make 4 C.. Place in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add 1 tsp. of the salt, and bring to a boil. Whisk in the grits, bring to a boil, then cover and cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until creamy. Hold in a warm place while you cook the shrimp.  Place the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and bubbling, add the shrimp, the remaining [/2 tsp. salt, and the pepper. Toss the shrimp in the butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just pink. Add the garlic and finish cooking, another 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Stir the ramp pesto into the grits, then stir in the creme fraiche. Divide the grits among 4 to 6 bowls and top with the shrimp. Garnish with the chives.

Spring Tonic Weed Pesto

Spring Tonic Weed Pesto

Spring Tonic Weed Pesto

Pesto is one of the tastier ways to consume any green plant, especially those with strong flavors. It can incorporate essentially anything green, though some leaves, and combinations of leaves, will taste better than others. It will pretty much always taste good. If not good enough, add more nuts, garlic, oil and cheese.

Our pesto will be a base of dandelion since they are literally everywhere. In today’s version I add nettles, as they are prolific right now where I live, and make a thick, aromatic pesto. But you could substitute any number of wild greens or weeds, like lambs’ quarter, watercress or chickweed, or a mixture of whatever you think will go well together. If these flavors are too strong, you could also substitute parsley or basil in place of some of the wild stuff.

 

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup olive oil

1/2 cup almonds (or pine nuts)

½ cup grated parmesan or Romano cheese

Zest of a lemon, and 2 tablespoons of juice

4 cup chopped dandelion greens, loosely packed, spotlessly clean 5 three-inch nettle tips (or other greens)

 

Add the garlic, salt, oil, almonds, cheese, lemon juice and zest to the blender and turn them into a thin, homogenous (and delicious) solution. Carefully add the greens to the pesto, a few at a time, until they too are part of the smooth, green paste. Serve your weed pesto tossed on piping hot noodles, which will cook the garlic just a tad. I like to stir in some sautéed greens too, for an extra reminder of why we are here.

Cream of Nettle Soup with Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Cream of Nettle Soup with Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Cream of Nettle Soup with Toasted Sunflower Seeds

3 tablespoons butter

1 medium sized onion, chopped

1 – 2 pieces green garlic, chopped into rounds or 1 clove garlic, minced

2 large red or yellow potatoes, chopped into 1 – 1 1/2 inch cubes

pinch of nutmeg

freshly ground black pepper

3 cups water

4 packed cups of fresh nettle leaves and tender stems (don’t forget to wear gloves while processing!)

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

salt

olive oil for garnish

 

In a medium sized soup pot, sauté the onions and green garlic in the butter over medium low heat until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes and season with nutmeg, freshly ground black pepper, and salt and sauté until aromatic, 1 – 2 minutes.  Add water and nettle leaves, bring to a simmer and simmer gently until the potatoes are soft, 12 – 18 minutes. While the soup is simmering, toast the sunflower seeds in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until lightly brown and aromatic, about 5 – 7 minutes. When the potatoes are soft, turn off the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender or in the food processor or blender.  (Note: please be careful processing hot liquids in the food processor or blender, only ever fill 1/3 full and use the lowest setting with a tight-fitting lid.)  Once the soup is pureed add the heavy cream.  Season to taste with salt. Reheat if needed before serving.  Serve garnished with the toasted sunflower seeds and olive oil.

Lemon–Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Shelling Peas and Green Garlic

Lemon–Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Shelling Peas and Green Garlic

Lemon–Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Shelling Peas and Green Garlic

8 ounces slightly soft, mild fresh goat cheese, at room temperature|

8 ounces cream cheese (preferably without stabilizers), at room temperature

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 small lemons)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 eggs

1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling the dough

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 small stalks green garlic, thinly sliced on the diagonal, or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

¼ cup dry white wine or vermouth

3 cups freshly shelled green peas

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh chives, cut into ½-inch lengths

 

In a large bowl, combine the cheeses, zest, salt, and eggs. Mix with a rubber spatula until smooth and add ¾ cup of the flour. Combine well and gently mix in the remaining flour to form a moist, slightly sticky dough. Do not over- mix or your gnocchi will be heavy. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Lightly flour a baking sheet or large platter and set aside. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, form it into a ball, and cut the ball into quarters. Roll each quarter into a ½-inch-thick rope. Use a sharp knife to cut the ropes into ½-inch gnocchi and put them on the baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough pieces; you should get about 84. Lightly dust the gnocchi with flour. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Boil the gnocchi in batches of 15 to 20; they will take about 3 minutes to cook. They’re done when they float—wait a few seconds before using a slotted spoon to remove the gnocchi to a baking sheet to cool. (They will be delicate when warm but will become sturdier as they cool.) Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. The cooked gnocchi will keep in the refrigerator for 24 hours. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid in the skillet has reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the gnocchi, peas, butter, and ½ cup of the reserved gnocchi cooking liquid to the skillet. Cook until the ingredients are warmed through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Divide the gnocchi between 6 or 8 bowls. Garnish with the chives and serve immediately.

Green Garlic Soup

Green Garlic Soup

Green Garlic Soup

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

24 young garlic plants, white part only, halved lengthwise (about 8 ounces worth)

3/4 cup water

1 1/2 pounds (22 ounces) small red potatoes, peeled and quartered

6 cups (1 1/2 quarts) chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar, to taste

ground pepper to taste

thinly sliced garlic scapes, olive oil, and watercress, for garnish (optional)

 

Melt butter in large, heavy bottomed stock pot. Add garlic and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and remaining 1/2 cup water and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the broth, cover, and allow to bubble gently for 20 more minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Puree the soup in batches in a blender for 2 minutes until smooth. If a smoother texture is desired, pass the puree through a medium-fine sieve and return to saucepan. Stir in the cream and salt. Add the vinegar, 1 teaspoon at a time, tasting the soup after each addition, until it tastes good to you. Reheat the soup gently and serve in warm bowls. Grind black pepper generously over each portion and serve with slices of toasted or grilled sourdough bread.

Forager Spring Greens Soup

Forager Spring Greens Soup

Forager Spring Greens Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium potato, peeled and diced

6 cups vegetable broth

Zest of 1/2 lemon

1 pound tender spring greens

1 bunch fresh cilantro, trimmed and roughly chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

In a large heavy stockpot set over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, leeks, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the potato and broth to the pot and bring the soup to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer and cook, covered, until the potato is falling-apart tender, about 30 minutes. Add the lemon zest, greens, and cilantro and cook until the greens turn bright and vivid, 1 to 2 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to a smooth consistency, or transfer the soup to a blender and very carefully puree the soup in batches before returning it to a clean pot. (If using a blender, vent the lid by removing the center pour cap, place a clean kitchen towel over the lid of the blender, and hold the towel-covered lid down firmly while pureeing.) Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into wide, shallow bowls and serve immediately

Roasted Baby Artichokes with Bacon and Balsamic Vinegar

Roasted Baby Artichokes with Bacon and Balsamic Vinegar

Roasted Baby Artichokes with Bacon and Balsamic Vinegar

9 baby artichokes (about 2 pounds)

2 lemons, cut in half

8 ounces thick−cut bacon, cut into 1/2−inch lardons

1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Kosher salt

3 T. good−quality balsamic vinegar

1/4 C. extra−virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp. flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

Prep each artichoke by removing the tough outer leaves and peeling the outer layer from the stem with a vegetable peeler or a paring knife. Cut off the top third of the artichoke to remove the tough ends of the leaves. Cut them in half lengthwise and give them a rub all over with one of the lemons as you work so they don’t oxidize and turn an unappealing brown color.  Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Place a frying pan big enough to fit the artichokes in a single layer over medium heat. Add the bacon lardons and cook for 5 minutes, or until most of their fat has been rendered. Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon and set it aside on a plate.  Add the artichokes to the hot bacon fat in a single layer and let them brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until soft and tender.  Remove the pan from the oven and add the bacon back in, along with the rosemary and garlic. Return the pan to a burner over medium heat. Give your best go at sautéing, tossing the ingredients around; if you drop some, don’t worry, the dog will love you for it. Season with salt.  Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, and let the vinegar reduce until sticky but not burnt, about 1 minute. Transfer the artichokes and bacon to a serving bowl, drizzle with the oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.

Pea and Ricotta Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons

Pea and Ricotta Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons

Pea and Ricotta Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons

5 T.  extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, to drizzle

2 spring onions, trimmed, finely chopped

2 1/2 cups  frozen peas

4 C. firm full-milk ricotta

1 cup finely grated parmesan, plus extra shaved, to serve

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 egg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 zucchinis, peeled or shaved into ribbons

4–6 slices Prosciutto

2 tablespoons small basil leaves

 

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions and stir for 3 minutes or until soft. Add peas and stir for a further 5 minutes or until peas are soft. Process mixture in a food processor until almost smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Cool. Add ricotta, 40g (1/2 cup) parmesan, flour and egg to pea mixture, season with salt and pepper, then stir to combine. Line a large oven tray with foil, then drizzle with oil. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Using a tablespoon, scoop a spoonful of pea mixture. Using a second spoon, scoop under the mixture and gently push the oval-shaped scoop (quenelle) into the water. Working quickly, repeat to make 10 gnocchi. Cook for 2 minutes or until gnocchi float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on tray. Repeat process 3 more times; makes 40 gnocchi.

Spaghetti with Ramps + Breadcrumbs

Spaghetti with Ramps + Breadcrumbs

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook l pound spaghetti according to package directions. Drain the pasta (reserve 1/4 C. pasta water) and set it aside. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse 2 slices stale bread* (3 oz.) until coarse crumbs form. Chop the bulbs of 8 oz. ramps** (reserve the greens). In a large skillet, heat 1 tsp. olive oil over medium heat; add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a bowl and season with salt and pepper; wipe the skillet with a paper towel. Place 1 tsp. olive oil and 2 tsp. salted butter in the skillet and set it over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the ramps and cook until fragrant and tender, about 4 minutes. Add the pasta to the skillet with the cooked ramps, add the reserved greens, and toss until wilted. Stir in the reserved pasta water to create a thin sauce. Serve sprinkled with the breadcrumbs. * Or use 2/3 C. panko ** Or a small bunch of scallions + 1 small garlic clove

Foraged Trumpet Mushrooms with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme

Foraged Trumpet Mushrooms with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme

4 T. clarified butter
8 large king trumpet mushrooms, sliced no thicker than 1/4 inch
2 cloves garlic, minced
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
Finely ground unrefined sea salt

Melt 2 T. the clarified butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 1 minute, then turn them over and cook the second sides for another 30 seconds, or until softened slightly and a bit brown at the edges. Transfer the mushrooms to a serving bowl. Add the remaining 2 T. butter to the pan, stir in the garlic, and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Stir in the lemon zest and juice and whisk until the mixture forms a uniform sauce. Stir in the thyme leaves, pour the sauce over the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and serve warm.

Nettle Flan

Nettle Flan

Softened butter for the ramekins or flan molds
½ to 1 lb. fresh young nettle leaves (depending on how much nettle you desire, I generally use about ¾ lb.)
4 large fresh farm eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 C. chopped chives
4 fresh sage leaves
1/3 C. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 C. heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 275° F and place the rack in the center position. Butter six 8-oz. ceramic ramekins, glass custard C. or glass canning jars. Cook the nettle leaves in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain thoroughly, rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle, then with your hands, squeeze out as much water as possible. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg together until blended. Combine the squeezed nettles, chives and sage in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the egg mixture and grated cheese and process until the mixture is extremely smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and process until thoroughly incorporated, about 30 seconds. Divide the nettle mixture among the prepared ramekins. Set the ramekins in a large baking dish so they don’t touch each other. Place the dish on the oven rack and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the centers are firm to the touch, about an hour. Remove the baking dish from the oven and let the flans cool in the water for 10 minutes. Run a thin-bladed knife around the sides of the ramekins and invert the flans onto serving plates. Serve with a light tomato sauce or a simple green salad and a little grated or shaved cheese over the top if desired.

Morel Mushrooms

Morel Mushrooms

The easiest presentation for the washed and ready morels is just to slice them in half lengthwise and give them a sauté in some butter. Play around with some logical additions, such as:

•finely chopped onion, garlic, or shallots (sauté these in the pan first, then add the mushrooms)
•chopped parsley
•more butter!
•some white wine
•a touch of cream
•a bit of salt or soy sauce as desired.

 

Beer Battered Asparagus with Lemon Mayo

Beer Battered Asparagus with Lemon Mayo

76e71fdc92d1bde31c6d54778f1ef4061/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon roughly minced fresh rosemary leaves
Pinch salt

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup beer
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
Vegetable oil, for frying

Lemon Herbed Dipping Sauce: Stir together all ingredients and transfer to a small bowl. Chill, covered, until ready to serve.

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan until it reaches 375 degrees F. Whisk together flour, salt, pepper lemon and zest in a bowl until combined. Add beer and whisk ingredients until smooth. Dip asparagus in batter to coat. Remove excess batter before frying. Gently transfer battered asparagus to oil and fry until golden. Stir gently to prevent asparagus from sticking together. Transfer to a baking sheet that has been lined with paper towels and keep warm in a preheated 200 degree F oven.

Asparagus, Peas and Fava Beans with Hollandaise Sauce

Asparagus, Peas and Fava Beans with Hollandaise Sauce

2img48l egg yolks
1 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
10 T. (1 1/4 sticks) (5 oz./155 g) unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
2 T. olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, spears cut on the bias into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces
1 cup shelled English peas or defrosted frozen peas
1 cup shelled and skinned fava beans
1/4 cup water
In a small bowl, using an immersion blender, blend the egg yolks and lemon juice until well combined. Moving the immersion blender up and down while blending, gradually drizzle in the butter until the hollandaise sauce is thick and creamy. Stir in the 1/2 tsp. salt. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Keep the sauce warm. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl. Set the pan over medium-high heat and warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the asparagus and cook, tossing occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peas, fava beans and water and cook, tossing occasionally, until the water has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Return the shallots to the pan and toss to distribute evenly. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately with the warm hollandaise sauce on the side. Serves 6 to 8.

Ramp and Potato Soup with Saffron, Chives and Tomatoes

Ramp and Potato Soup with Saffron, Chives and Tomatoes

1/2 tsp. saffron threads

2 T. boiling water

2 T. butter

About 4 C. ramps, or 4 bunches, trimmed of the root end and chopped (including leaves)

2 medium sized russet potatoes, peeled and diced

5 C. vegetable broth

2 C. milk

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/4 tsp. Tabasco

1/4 C. snipped chives

Good handful cherry tomatoes, quartered

 

In a small glass, combine the saffron and the boiling water and allow to steep for 10 minutes. In the meantime, melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the ramps and sauté until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes before adding the stock and the saffron along with its liquid. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. With an immersion blender, purée the soup to your desired consistency. Add the milk and season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Heat until it is warmed through, then ladle into bowls and serve sprinkled with chives and topped with tomatoes.

 

 

Yield:

Calories:

Fat:

Fiber:

 

Fiddlehead Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

Fiddlehead Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

 

fiddle2

4 cups of fiddleheads, cleaned and trimmed of any brown parts

 

Large bowl of ice water

 

1-1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

 

3 large green onions (scallions) cut into thin slices, white parts only – reserve some chopped green ends for garnish

 

Vinaigrette:

 

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

 

3 Tablespoons peanut oil or other neutral oil such as canola or safflower (avoid using peanut oil if there is a concern about peanut allergies)

 

½ teaspoon Asian sesame oil

 

1 Tablespoon dark sodium-reduced soy sauce

 

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)

 

1 teaspoon sugar

 

1 clove garlic, very finely minced

 

 

 

Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside. Fill a saucepan with enough water to just cover 4 cups of fiddleheads and bring to a boil. Add fiddleheads and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain fiddleheads and plunge immediately into the ice water to stop cooking. Drain again and place on a dishtowel or paper towel to dry thoroughly. In a small bowl, prepare vinaigrette. Add rice vinegar, peanut oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar and garlic and whisk until well combined. Place cooked fiddleheads and green onion slices in a bowl and toss with vinaigrette until dressing evenly coats the fiddleheads. Place salads on a plate and garnish with toasted sesame seeds and a sprinkling of green onion slices.

 

 

 

Fiddlehead ferns, caramelized mushrooms and dandelion Pasta Salad

Fiddlehead ferns, caramelized mushrooms and dandelion Pasta Salad

fiddle1 box of pasta

 

3 tablespoons olive oil

 

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

 

1 cup Fiddlehead ferns, tips trimmed

 

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

 

1 package button mushrooms, sliced

 

8 large dandelion leaves (about 4 inches x 2 inches), 4 roughly chopped, 4 set aside

 

1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

 

parsley for garnish

 

dressing

 

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

 

1/2 lemon, juiced

 

1/8 cup Tamari Soy Sauce

 

1 large clove garlic, crushed

 

1 tsp dijon mustard

 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Cook pasta al dente according to directions. When done, drain and set aside to cool. This salad can be served cold or warm. In a skillet, over high heat, add olive oil. When hot, add garlic and turn down to medium heat. Add mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns and cook until mushrooms are caramelized (a nice golden brown color), about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. When the olive oil disappears add a tab of sweet butter.  Prepare the Dandelions, parsley and the cherry tomatoes, set aside In a large bowl, toss together the pasta and all ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Place pasta in a large serving bowl.  Add parsley as garnish and serve.

 

 

 

Roasted Fiddlehead BLT Salad

Roasted Fiddlehead BLT Salad

apples-fiddleheads-0151 1/2 heads romaine, clean and dry and cut into bite-sized pieces

6 slices bacon, preferably Vermont Smoke & Cure, or other good-quality

Olive oil

1 pt. grape tomatoes, cut in half

3/4 lb. fiddlehead ferns, brown ends trimmed, soaked in 1/2 water, 1/2 white vinegar for 1/2 hour

6 or 8 whole cloves of garlic, with peel

1/2 c. Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen or Bonneview Mossend Blue (Blue Cheese)

 

Place the lettuce on large dinner plates and put aside.  Cook the bacon until crisp.  Use a fork to remove from pan, and place on paper towel to remove extra fat.  Keep pan over medium heat, add tomatoes, fiddleheads, and garlic cloves with a splash of olive oil and sprinkle of kosher salt, and cook until fiddleheads are crisp tender.  (You can do this on the stovetop, or – as I did – in the oven at about 400 degrees.)  Add  tomato-fiddlehead mixture to lettuce, being sure to scrape/spoon out any juices in pan.  If desired (as I did), peel garlic cloves and add to plate.  Crumble bacon over top, add crumbled blue cheese, and serve.

 

Fiddlehead and Wild Leek Salad with Bacon

Fiddlehead and Wild Leek Salad with Bacon

8 oz fiddleheads

8 oz wild leeks (ramps)

4 slices of bacon

1 oz sliced almonds

1 T. Dijon mustard

2 fl oz white wine vinegar

5 fl oz olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

 

Clean and wash fiddleheads and leeks. Blanch both in boiling water for 1 minute. Refresh in cold water and allow to drain Grill the bacon until crispy, then cut into small strips. Combine the mustard, vinegar and oil, season with salt and pepper, and pour over leeks and fiddleheads. Chill for two hours then serve with chopped bacon and almonds sprinkled on top.

 

 

Yield:

Calories:

Fat:

Fiber:

 

Spring Pea Soup with Nettle-Sorrel Pesto and Pea Vines

Spring Pea Soup with Nettle-Sorrel Pesto and Pea Vines

Spring Pea Soup with Nettle-Sorrel Pesto and Pea Vines

2 T. EVOO

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Kosher salt

1 pound fresh shelled English peas (from 3 pounds pea pods)

1/4 cup heavy cream

12 small pea vines, torn

1/4 cup Nettle-Sorrel Pesto

 

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. When hot, add the shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the broth, season with salt, and bring to a simmer. Add the peas and the cream and return to a strong simmer. Cook until the peas are tender but still bright green, 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, then purée until extremely smooth. Season to taste with additional salt, if necessary. Ladle the soup immediately into bowls and garnish each bowl with a little tangle of pea vines and a dollop of the pesto.

Velvety Asparagus-Mint Soup With Lavender-Lemon Goat Cheese

Velvety Asparagus-Mint Soup With Lavender-Lemon Goat Cheese

Velvety Asparagus-Mint Soup With Lavender-Lemon Goat Cheese

Winter may not be as cold in the Northwest as other parts of the country, but it sure is dark. We get pretty excited at the sight of green stalks and leafy herbs; it means the days are getting longer and brighter. This soup is a mouthful of green — leek, asparagus, mint, and tarragon—bolstered by the thickening power of potatoes. If you’ve got sorrel growing in the yard or have access to wild watercress, feel free to throw some into the pot as well. Although this green soup is plenty good on its own, the lavender-lemon goat cheese, added just before serving, transforms it into a luxurious ride.

 

4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) plain goat cheese

3/4 teaspoon finely chopped dried culinary lavender

Grated or minced zest of 2 medium lemons

3 medium-starch potatoes (about 1-1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 cups water

3 T. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, washed thoroughly and cut into 1/2-inch rounds

1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces

4- to 5-inch piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (optional, see note)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup sorrel or watercress (optional)

1/2 cup whole mint leaves

1 T. fresh tarragon leaves, stemmed

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 baguette or favorite crusty loaf, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (optional)

 

Put the goat cheese in a small bowl and mash until soft and malleable. (You can also do this in a food processor.) Stir in the lavender and half of the lemon zest until evenly distributed. Shape the cheese into a log and wrap in parchment paper, twisting each end tightly like a candy wrapper. Place the cheese in the freezer for about 15 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Put the potatoes, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a medium saucepan and cover with the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes with garlic to a medium bowl, and reserve the cooking water. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat, tilting the pan to coat. Add the leeks and stir to coat with the oil. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and 5 cups liquid — measure out the reserved potato water and add enough tap water to equal 5 cups. Add the cheese rind, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, until the asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the sorrel to the pot at around minute 8 of cooking. Meanwhile, arrange the baguette slices on a sheet pan and toast until crisp in the oven, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the cheese rind from the pot and stir in the mint, tarragon, and remaining lemon zest. Puree the soup until smooth using an immersion or stand blender (be careful of spattering hot liquid and be sure to only fill the stand blender halfway). Return the soup to the pot and gently rewarm over low heat. Gradually add the lemon juice, tasting for acidity, and season with additional salt as needed. To serve, ladle the puree into six bowls. Using a serrated knife, cut the goat cheese log into 1/4-inch rounds and smear over each crostini, floating them in the soup bowls, or simply drop one or two cheese rounds into each bowl. The puree reheats well and will keep for about 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Transfer the patties to a sheet pan and place into the oven to keep warm until serving. The patties will be slightly soft on the inside with a firm, crusty coating. NOTE: If you have a Parm rind on hand, feel free to use it for an umami boost; if not, though, no worries — the soup will still be lovely.

Nettle Risotto

Nettle Risotto

A good use of cooked stinging nettles is in risotto. Blanched, nettles will keep their emerald loveliness even after a good 15 minutes of cooking, which makes this risotto visually stunning.

The dish itself is pretty simple: Risotto rice, cooked nettles, butter, shallot, garlic, a little pecorino cheese and beef stock. The basic structure of this risotto holds with all sorts of variations. You could use a different grated cheese, such as parmigiano or a Greek mizithra. You can use onions instead of shallots. You can switch out the nettles for spinach or any other delicate-leafed green (orach, chard or herbs work well). You can even use vegetable or chicken stock if you must, although the flavor will not be the same.

One thing you cannot switch out, however, is the rice. You absolutely must use short-grain rice to make risotto — long grain rice lacks the particular starch that sloughs off with constant stirring, and without it, you have no creaminess. No creaminess, no risotto. You can buy risotto rice in many supermarkets.

This recipe serves two as a main course, or four as an appetizer. It can be doubled.

1 C. risotto rice
1 C. cooked, drained nettles or spinach (see below)
2-3 T. unsalted butter
2-3 T. grated pecorino cheese
1 large shallot, minced
3 minced garlic cloves
4 C. beef stock
Salt

Depending what variety your nettles are, you will need four or five big tong-fulls of fresh nettles to get your cup of cooked nettles. Regular nettles (urtica dioica) are more substantial than their daintier cousins, the dwarf nettle (urtica urens) and retain more of their volume when cooked. I say tong-fulls because you do not want to pick up fresh nettles, as they will sting you. Thus the name. Get a large pot of water boiling and add a handful of salt. Grab the nettles with tongs and put them into the boiling water. Stir around and boil for 1-2 minutes for dwarf nettles, about 5 minutes for regular nettles. Fish them out with a skimmer or the tongs and immediately dump them into a big bowl with ice water in it. Once they are cool, put them in a colander to drain. Get a cloth towel, like a tea towel, and put the nettles in it. Wrap one end of the towel one way, then the other end of the towel the other (like a candy wrapper) and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Chop the nettles finely — don’t use a food processor or you will get a mush. The finer you chop, the smoother your risotto will be. Remove any stray stems. To make the risotto, heat 2 T. butter in a large saucier or heavy pot set on medium-high. Wait until the butter stops frothing and add the shallot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and the rice and stir to combine. Stirring constantly, cooked everything for a minute or so or until all the rice is well coated with butter. Add 1 tsp. salt and your first C. beef stock and turn the heat to high. Stir it into the rice. When it starts boiling strongly, turn the heat down to medium and stir often, at least every minute or so, until the rice absorbs the stock. Repeat with a second C. stock. When the second C. is absorbed, add the nettles and the third C. stock. Stir well to combine. Keep stirring constantly now to develop the creaminess in the risotto, and to distribute the nettles evenly. Let the stock absorb. Taste the risotto, and add salt if needed. It may need that fourth C. stock, as you want the dish to be loose, not firm. At any rate, you will need at least a little more stock to loosen the risotto for the cheese and the final T. butter, which you add now. Stir everything well and let the butter and cheese melt in the risotto for about 4 or 5 minutes, still stirring often. Serve at once. If you have leftovers, you can add the risotto to a beaten egg, form into patties or balls, roll in breadcrumbs and fry in olive oil. It is delicious.

Fiddlehead Fern and Mushroom Soup

Fiddlehead Fern and Mushroom Soup

fern5 C. low- sodium chicken stock

2 C. cleaned fiddlehead ferns, large ones cut in half

2 C. crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 T. olive oil

2 large long white or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed into small bite sized pieces

1/2 C. sweet onion, finely diced

2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper

 

Bring the stock to a boil in a soup kettle. Add the potatoes, onion and thyme. Cook on a low boil, covered until the potatoes are very, very tender Рthis takes me from 20 to 25 minutes. While doing that, in a large skillet, saut̩ the sliced mushrooms, ferns and garlic in the olive oil with a generous sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper for about 1 minute. Add two large spoons of stock, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover, stir and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. At this point, the mushrooms and ferns should be cooked. Add the lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper. Note: if not making a soup Рthis is a wonderful side dish as-is! Set aside until the potatoes are done. When the potatoes are very tender (at the point of mushy) take off the heat, remove the thyme stems if using fresh and allow to cool off for a few minutes. Carefully cream with the immersion blender (or do so in batches in a food processor). Avoid splashing the hot liquid on yourself! Add half the fern/mushroom mixture, and again with the immersion blender, whiz down into small pieces. Add the remaining fern/mushrooms, stir and taste for salt and pepper. This process will give you a creamy textured, full bodied yet low-fat soup. If cooled down too much, heat on low until just heated through and serve. Enjoy!

 

 

Yield:

Calories:

Fat:

Fiber:

 

Ramp-Sesame Pancakes with Miso Dipping Sauce

Ramp-Sesame Pancakes with Miso Dipping Sauce

leek_pancakes_jpg_492x0_q85_crop-smart1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup boiling water

About 20 ramps, white and pink parts finely chopped to yield about 1/3 cup

Bacon fat, peanut oil, or canola oil

 

For Miso Dipping Sauce

 

3 tablespoons yellow or brown miso paste

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or lemon juice

2 teaspoons honey

3 dashes toasted sesame oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Ground cayenne pepper (optional)

 

For the pancakes, combine the flour, sesame seeds, and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly pour in the boiling water, stirring with a fork to combine. The mixture will be thick and hard to work, but keep at it until its cool enough to start kneading by hand. If it’s too tacky, add in another tablespoon or two of flour until the dough is workable. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest, covered with damp towel in the bowl, for 30 minutes. In the meantime, combine the ingredients for the miso sauce, adding in ground black pepper and cayenne to taste. Mix well. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to use. When the dough has rested, divide it equally into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. On a lightly floured board, roll a dough ball out to a flat circle about 1/4-inch thick. Spread a heaping teaspoon of the ramps all over the dough. Starting at the edge of the circle, roll the dough up into a tight cigar. Coil the cigar into a snail or a cinnamon roll shape. Flatten the snail/roll and roll it out again to about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add in a half teaspoon of bacon fat, peanut oil, or canola oil. Cook the pancake for 60-90 seconds on each side or until golden brown, adjusting the heat as necessary. Move the finished pancake into a warm oven until the rest of the pancakes are done. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Slice the pancakes into quarters and serve with the miso sauce.

Fiddleheads with Artichokes and Wild Leeks

Fiddleheads with Artichokes and Wild Leeks

1 T. olive oil

3 or 4 wild leeks, chopped

6 mushrooms, chopped

2 ounces white wine

2 ounces vegetable stock

1 ounce of lemon juice (optional)

1 cup or so of fiddleheads

3/4 cup or so of artichoke hearts

Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

 fiddleheads

In a large skillet heat olive oil until it shimmers. Add wild leeks and cook until softened, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they have thrown off their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add white wine and vegetable stock and heat through. Add fiddleheads and increase heat to medium-high. Cook until the fiddleheads are almost tender about 10 minutes. Add more vegetable stock if it is too dry. Add artichokes and cook until they are heated through and fiddleheads are completely cooked, about 5 minutes.  Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Pickled Ramps

Pickled Ramps

Clean your ramps well. They get muddy and sandy so make sure to peel the outer layer and give them a good rinse/soak. Just use the bulbs here but don’t throw out the leaves! The greens are amazing in pesto or risotto, in any kind of pasta, mixed with butter to top fish. Use any combination of spices you like (allspice and juniper are nice additions).

1 C. white wine vinegar
1 C. sugar
1 C. water
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
2 tsp. pink peppercorns
1 tsp. black peppercorns
â…› tsp. hot chili flakes
2 bay leaves
1 pound ramp bulbs, cleaned and trimmed
Kosher salt for blanching

Trim the root ends off of the ramps and cut off the leaves, saving the green ends for another purpose (like pesto or risotto). Rinse the ramps well under cool, running water. Bring a 2-3 quart pot of water up to boil and add 2 tsp. salt. Drop in the ramps and cook for 2-4 minutes, depending on size) They should be tender but not mushy. Remove and shock them in ice water until cool. Drain the ramps well and place them in the jar you’re going to pickle them in. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, and water and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf and all the spices. Turn off the heat. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the ramps in the mason jar and let cool on the counter (30 minutes or so). Then seal tightly and transfer to the refrigerator. They’ll be ready to eat in a day or two. The refrigerated pickled ramps will last a few weeks to a couple of months.

Sweet & Spicy Pickled Ramps

Sweet & Spicy Pickled Ramps

Serves 1 quart jar
1 C. sugar
2 C. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
2 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. fenugreek seed
2 pieces dried red chili peppers
1/2 pound ramp bulbs (with stems)

Wash the ramp bulbs very well, discarding any loose membrane around the bulb. Make sure the leaves and any root material is trimmed away. Mix sugar, vinegar, mustard, fennel, coriander, fenugreek, chilies and cloves in a suitably sized pot. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, put the ramp bulbs into a clean, sanitized glass quart jar. When the brine comes to a boil, carefully pour it into the jar, covering the ramps. Leave at least 1 inch of space at the top of the jar, then cap tightly, allow to cool and refrigerate for three or more days. After three days, your ramps should be ready to enjoy on their own or as a condiment, but you can brine them for longer, and they’ll keep (chilled) for months.

Ramp Chimichurri Sauce & Ramp Chimichurri Crostinis

Ramp Chimichurri Sauce & Ramp Chimichurri Crostinis

Ramp Chimichurri Sauce

1 T. fresh oregano leaves
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/4 C. fresh parsley leaves
10 ramps, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces, leaves included
1 T. white wine vinegar
1/2 C. extra virgin olive oil, or more as desired
Coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (be liberal)
Pinch red pepper flakes

Put everything into a food processor and blender and whir the hell out of it. If you want a thinner sauce, add more olive oil, or you could add a little water.
Ramp Chimichurri Crostinis

Goat Cheese or Fresh Ricotta
Baguette
Ramp Chimichurri Sauce
Cilantro, for garnish, optional

Slice baguette into slices for bruschetta or crostini. Toast or Grill if desired; you can add olive oil if desired. Spread with cheese, drizzle with Ramp Chimichurri Sauce, sprinkle with cilantro, if desired, and serve.

Stuffed Snap Pea

Stuffed Snap Pea

Stuffed Snap Pea

20–30 pea pods (snap peas or snow peas work well)

1/4 cup assorted finely chopped herbs (see recipe notes)

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

1/3 cup cream cheese

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

 

Use a sharp paring knife to split each pea pod down the middle and form a small pocket. In a small bowl, combine herbs, ricotta, cream cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well. Fill a plastic bag or piping bag fitted with a round or star tip with the cheese mixture. Pipe a bit of the cheese mixture into each pea. Eat immediately or store in the fridge for a few hours before you dig in!

 

How to Split a Snap Pea:

 

It can be tough the first few times to get the knife right in the center of the pea so be patient and be prepared to give it a few tries. Insert the knife gently into the seam of each pea and then slowly slice down the center – but be careful not to slice all the way through the pea pod. This can take a bit of practice, but you’ll get the hang of it! Try to keep the knife straight and steady, and slide it through the rest of the pea (it sometimes helps to lay the pea flat on a cutting board and slide the knife through that way!) kind of like you’re opening an envelope.

 

NOTES

 

Use any herbs you have on hand here – I like a mix of parsley, chives, basil, and dill.

 

Buy a few extra pea pods the first time you make these so you have a few backups if you accidentally slice all the way through the peas!

 

You can make this appetizer a day ahead of you like. If you can, I recommend splitting the peas and mix the filling ahead of time, and then piping the cheese into the pea pods when you’re ready to serve.

Nettle Ravioli Filling

Nettle Ravioli Filling

1 1/2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 C. minced leek whites
1/2 C. minced scallion (“spring” or “green onion”), white and green parts
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. fresh ricotta cheese
2/3 C. ricotta salata, grated
1/2 C. mascarpone
1/4 C. grated parmesan cheese
4 C. cooked, squeezed, chopped nettles
2 T. chopped fresh basil leaves
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 egg, beaten

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the leek and cook, stirring, until softened. Add the scallion and cook for another minute or two, until the scallion has softened. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool. Combine the cheeses. Add the leek and scallion mixture. Incorporate the nettles and herbs, and stir in the beaten egg. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Morel Mojo

Morel Mojo

Chef Scott Dolich extends morel season by pickling them into a loose, relishlike condiment he calls mojo. At the restaurant, he dips into his supply to dress up spring vegetables like asparagus or ramps or to garnish grilled meats and fish.

1 1/4 lb. morel mushrooms
1 C. apple cider vinegar
1 C. beef broth
1 C. vegetable broth
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 1/4 tsp. salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 tsp. EVOO

Submerge the morels in a bowl of cold water and agitate them gently to dislodge any grit. Drain them in a colander and pat dry immediately. Slice off the stems and cut the morels into bite-size pieces. Combine the morels, vinegar, beef broth, vegetable broth, garlic, salt, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes in a large pot. Cover and simmer the mixture over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the morel mixture cool slightly. Discard the bay leaf. Drain the morels, reserving the brine. Puree 1 C. the morels with ½ C. the brine in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade attachment until well combined but not entirely smooth. Add the olive oil in a steady stream with the motor running until well combined. Transfer the puree to a medium bowl and fold in the remaining morels. Discard the remaining brine. Salt to taste. Transfer the relish to an airtight container to cool to room temperature. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the relish will keep for about l month. NOTE: Morels come into season in early spring and generally stick around through May.

Pickled Ramp Bulbs

Pickled Ramp Bulbs

1 pound ramps
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pickling salt (or any other finely milled salt)
1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
1/8 tsp. red chile flakes
1 bay leaf

Wash the ramps well. Trim away the leafy greens and root ends. Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt with 1/2 cup/120 ml of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Place all the spices and the bay leaf in the bottom of a clean l-pint/500 ml jar and pack the trimmed ramps into the jar. Pour the brine over the ramps, leaving 1/2 inch/12 mm of headspace. Tap the jar gently to remove any air bubbles. Add more liquid to return the headspace to 1/2 inch/12 mm, if necessary. Wipe the rim and apply a clean lid and ring. Let the jar cool for at least an hour and then place in the refrigerator. Give the ramps at least a week in the pickling liquid before eating. Note: Because nothing about ramps is neat or precisely cultivated, you have to take a bit more care in their preparation. Wash them well in several changes of cold water to ensure you remove all the grit. And don’t toss the green tops! You can either sauté them and serve them as a cooked green or whirl them into an oniony pesto.

Mushroom, Potato, & Nettle Soup

Mushroom, Potato, & Nettle Soup

Nettles, once cooked, they can be handled and used as you would spinach – scramble with eggs or use in quiche or frittatas, add them to Greek spanakopita fillings, ravioli filling, risotto, soups, stir-frys, puree them for nettle pasta dough, top pizzas, make creamed nettles, or simply sauté them with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and a squeeze of lemon (just like spinach!).

To soften the stingers, and render them harmless, cook them as such:

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Tip the contents of your bag of nettles into the pot, or use tongs to lift them into the pot. Push them down and stir them around a bit with a wooden spoon or tongs. Let them boil, and, after a minute, the stingers will have softened so that the nettles can be handled. Within 2-3 minutes, the nettles will be fully cooked. Lift them out with a spider or strainer and either refresh them under cold water, or spread them out on a baking sheet to cool. Once cool, they can be squeezed of excess water if desired (a good idea if you are adding them to eggs), or chopped to add to soups. If the stem is tender, you can chop the vegetable in its entirety and use the whole thing. If the stem is woody, just pluck the leaves from the stem and discard the stem (much easier than donning gloves and plucking the leaves from the raw stem).

Note that the nettles are lifted from the boiling water rather than pouring out the contents of the pot into a colander. This is so that you remove the floating nettles, and leave the sunken sediment (if any) behind in the pot. In preparing the nettles in this manner, you can avoid having to wash the raw nettles and risk a run-in with the stingers. Also note that I have never had anyone mention that the nettles retain any sediment, nor have I ever encountered it when eating nettles prepared in this manner. Occasionally, though, there will be a thin twig or pine needle that has to be removed.

I am often asked if nettles can be steamed rather than boiled. Yes, they can, but they should be washed first, because the sediment will not be washed away by the steam. Also, if you blanch or boil rather than steam, you have the advantage of getting a “2 for 1” with your vegetable purchase.

After par-boiling, you have a nutrient-dense leafy green (think nutrient content of spinach, times 10, with added trace minerals), plus the nutrient-dense cooking liquid. If you have salted the cooking water, you can use the resulting Nettle Broth as a rich vegetarian soup broth or for cooking rice and risotto. If you have kept your nettle boiling water unsalted, you will have a Spring Tonic of Nettle Tea to drink.

Both the nettles and the nettle cooking liquid freeze beautifully, and will keep the better part of a year. A tip: Don’t squeeze out the water from the cooked nettle leaves before freezing; the extra water will help to preserve their integrity in the freezer, and you can always squeeze them out when they have thawed.

Mushroom, Potato, & Nettle Soup

Don’t feel limited to the mushrooms listed – a great number of wild mushrooms will work just as well. This soup freezes quite nicely.

1/2 lb. young nettles
¼ C. good flavored olive oil, plus more for cooking the mushrooms
1 lb. potatoes, peeled, halved, and sliced ¼ inch thick
a pinch of chile flake
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
½ lb. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
½ lb. maitake mushrooms, chopped or pulled apart into petals
10 C. good quality meat, chicken, mushroom, or vegetable broth (you can include some of the nettle cooking liquid in the soup broth – it is rich and will add another layer of flavor to the soup)
sea salt & black pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Season the water with salt. Carefully add the nettles and cook until the stingers have softened, about a minute. Drain the nettles and refresh them briefly under cold water until cool enough to handle. Pick the leaves from the larger, woodier stems (the tender young stems can be chopped and added to the soup). Set the nettles aside.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over a medium flame. Add the sliced potato and cook, stirring every so often, until the potatoes have started to take on some color (10-15 minutes). Add the chile flake and sliced garlic. Add another T. oil if the ingredients in the pot seem dry. Cook for 1 more minute. Break up the potatoes slightly with a potato masher or wooden spoon, then add the stock to the pot. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms in additional oil. Add them to the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer the soup for 20 minutes, then add the nettles. Warm through and serve.

SpicySweet Pickled Ramps

SpicySweet Pickled Ramps

12 oz. ramps with greens (about 3 bunches)
3 C. cider vinegar (5% acidity)
2 tsp. pure kosher salt
1/2 C. sugar
2 tsp. fennel seeds
2 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. hot pepper flakes, or more to taste

Prepare for water-bath canning: Wash the jars, keep them hot in the canning pot, and put the flat lids in a bowl. Wash the ramps well and trim off any damaged leaves. Cut the tops off so that the bulb ends will fit upright in your canning jar with 1/2 inch headspace at the top. Arrange the leafy tops into four stacks. In a saucepan, bring the vinegar, 1 C. water, the salt, sugar, and spices to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Using a jar lifter, remove the hot jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a folded towel. Working quickly, pack the ramp bulbs into one of the hot jars. Roll up each stack of leaves and stuff two rolls into each of the other two hot jars. Ladle the hot vinegar mixture into all the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a chopstick to remove air bubbles around the inside of each jar. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring so that it’s just finger-tight. Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes to process. Remove the jars to a folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours. After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each; if it can be pushed down, it hasn’t sealed, and the jar should be reprocessed or refrigerated immediately. Label the sealed jars and store.

Sausage & Orecchiette with Ramps and Favas

Sausage & Orecchiette with Ramps and Favas

Orecchiette with Ramps and Favas

Kosher salt

1 pound fresh orecchiette pasta

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 pound spicy Italian sausage, removed from the casings if not bulk

1 cup peeled shelled fava beans

3 cups sliced ramps, bulbs and leaves (or an equal amount of leeks and 1 garlic clove)

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese

 

In a very large pot, bring 5 quarts water and 3 tablespoons salt to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, about 1 minute less than the package directions. Occasionally give the pasta a stir so it doesn’t stick together. Scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta.  Meanwhile, put a large skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil and sausage and cook, breaking up the meat as it cooks, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the fava beans and ramps, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the pan and cook for 30 seconds, stirring to blend. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan. Top with a good drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper.