Along the Grapevine


14 Comments

Ramps Butter

DSC00645Ramps (aka wild garlic or leeks) season is here in Eastern Ontario, and the window for picking it is brief. To make things tougher for us ramps fans, care must be taken not to over harvest and deplete the crop for future years.

In order to lessen our impact from foraging, especially where growth is sparse, it is possible to just remove a leaf or two from each plant and leave the bulb in the ground so the plant will still be there next year. The leaves on their own are

A couple of years ago I transplanted a small clump into my garden where it is doing very well, but still not the acreage I am aiming for. However, a few leaves taken will do it no harm and anticipate a larger crop next year.DSC02995.JPG

To spread it as thin as possible, I decided to make a spread! Butter mixed with chopped steamed ramps leaves and a little fresh mint – other herbs or seasoning as desired. DSC03005.JPG

This is not only an excellent spread, but can also be used to add flavour to soups and sauces. Stay tuned!

Related posts: Fermented ramps; Ramps omelette


8 Comments

Gravlax and Spring Greens Pasta

DSC02010

I have been reading a lot of distressing reports lately about the over-harvesting of ramps by irresponsible or maybe just uninformed foragers. Ramps, or wild leeks as they are sometimes called, are one of those plants which have to be treated with great care, and are on the verge of extinction in some areas in the country. Until I found a privately owned area where I could pick a generous amount but which is cared for by responsible owners, I just did without. If you do find ramps to pick, please be sure to gather just a small proportion of what’s growing there. One way to do this is pick just the centre ones from a clump. They tend to spread outwards, so thinning the middle is a safe way not to over-pick. Another method is to pick just a few leaves and leave the little bulb. There is still plenty that can be done with just the greens.

The area I frequent is actually increasing in its ramp production, thanks to careful harvesting and clearing. And now that I have successfully transplanted a small sample into my own flower bed, I hope to have my own to harvest soon.

DSC02013

The best way to preserve them and extend their use – a little goes a long way – is to ferment them as I describe in this post here. But for a brief period in the spring I can afford the luxury of using a few fresh ones as I did in this pasta dish. If you don’t have ramps, other spring vegetables such as asparagus, scapes, nettles, garlic mustard etc. would also work well.

I made this dish for Fiesta Friday 67 as a follow-up to my spruce tip gravlax last week. This just involved using a good quality pasta mixed with a handful of sauteed wild greens, in this case ramps, and a good amount of fresh basil, plus about five slices of gravlax per person.

DSC02034

Toss it all in a bowl and add little fresh cheese crumbled on top, and there you have a super simple gourmet meal.

DSC02038

Happy foraging!


22 Comments

A Taste of Greens

 

DSC00679

I have been busy these last few days. So many wild greens available, and many of them for only a few days more, so must harvest while I can. The result of all this is that we have been consuming more than our fair share of nature’s spring freebies. So today I prepared a mixture of wild greens served on pasta with nothing more for flavouring than the greens themselves to bring to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #15.. A generous bunch of mint and a handful of young garlic precluded the need for anything alien to the fields, like cheese or lemon. Only the salt, pasta and oil for frying came from afar.

This is not a recipe – just a way to make good use of these seasonal treats. You could use any spring greens, such as spinach and asparagus, but if you have anything edible and green available, this is a good way to use it.

DSC00677

I used a mixture of previously steamed (10 minutes) fiddleheads, ramp and dandelion leaves, young garlic, chives and mint. I fried the garlic first in oil, added the greens next and the mint near the end. I added salt to taste and one ladle of the pasta water to avoid any burning, and covered it all and let it heat through for a few minutes – as long as it took to consume half a beer.

And speaking of drinks, with the money I saved with this meal, I was able to splurge on a bottle of white wine.

DSC00682

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @

Fiddleheads on Punk Domestics


24 Comments

Ramps (Wild Leeks) Omelette

Image

Where we live is well-known by many in Ontario for its abundance of Allium Tricoccum, otherwise known as ramps, wild leeks or wild garlic. Until this year, I never knew where to find them, and worried that if I did, I would be contributing to the over-harvesting I hear is threatening their survival. In fact, they have been so popular in some places that they are considered an endangered species and collecting them is restricted. Even where such restrictions do not apply, it is advisable to restrict oneself in public areas. So when invited by a friend to go foraging on her property where they grow rampant, and no other foragers compete, I couldn’t resist.

DSC00647

Image

They usually grow in woody areas, in clumps which are rooted firmly near the surface. Their broad, smooth leaves, often with a burgundy rim on the lower stems, and a scallion-like stem and bulb make them easy to identify, but if unsure, just rub a little of the leaf between your fingers and take a whiff – they have a distinct garlic-onion smell. The entire plant is edible, and the green part much more tender than the cultivated leek. To avoid over-harvesting, it is possible to pick just the leaf – one or two from each plant.

Image

Ramps are easily used in any recipe calling for scallions, and go particularly well with eggs. For my first dish I prepared an omelette by lightly sauteing 100 grams of whole leeks with 1 minced clove of garlic in 2 Tbsp of olive oil. I added to that a mixture of 6 eggs, 50 grams (or 1/2 cup) freshly grated parmesan and 6 Tbsp of cold water. Once cooked almost through on one side, I placed it under a broiler on a rack about 8 inches from the element until the top was done.

ImageImage

If you don’t live in a wild leek area, or choose not to go foraging, you might find some ramps on sale at your local farmers’ market or a grocer’s. They won’t be around for long, so get them while you can. They can be frozen after only air drying or steaming lightly so that you can enjoy them later in the year.

Ramps (Wild Leeks) Omelette on Punk Domestics