Winter was HORRID for us North Easterners this year. Maybe we say this every year but this year was a true test of our grit.
So pardon me if one trusty, early sign of Spring has me leaping with joy: the Ramp. Not an onion, not a leek and certainly not garlic. The ramp pops up during that mushy in-between stage that is early spring.
What can we do with a Ramp? Anything you can do with a leek, garlic or scallion. Though its flavor is slightly more pungent, its is a very versatile little allium.
Side note: A ramps intensity can be tamed slightly by giving it a quick blanche.
Ramp and Goat Cheese Crostini's, two ways:
Combine 1/3 cup of roughly chopped ramps and 1/3 cup of goat cheese (roughly 3 ounces) in a food processor. Add a few clicks of fresh ground pepper and a pinch of salt (to taste). Blend until the goat cheese a nice, Spring-like green color. Spread on warm crostini's, serve.
Roughly chopped, roasted ramps can also be layered on top of a fresh goat cheese. Chop ramps into rough, 1" pieces. Toss in olive oil, coarse salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast or broil until wilted and slightly charred. Layer on top of crostini's spread with fresh goat cheese.*
Ramp and Eggs: Simple as can be. Poached eggs on top of ramps sauteed in EVOO. Salt, pepper. Done.
Ramp Pesto: Again, simply 86 the garlic sub ramps. Pine nuts or walnuts, lemon zest or no lemon zest. Up to the chef. There are as many recipe variations on classic pesto as there are cookbooks. It all comes down to taste. I use Martha Stewart's as a jumping off point because, well, why not? P.S. Pesto freezes well. Make extra and store it in ice cube trays.