Friday, April 13, 2012


Springtime! The farmers markets are finally beginning to stir. A walk through Union Square on Wednesday yielded some perky young spinach piled high in ruffly mounds, being sold by the pound at whopping prices. Fill a small bag, enough for a salad; it wont weigh that much and you will get a preview of the best tastes of the season.

I was on a mission to find ramps, but did not have much hope of success as I was hitting the market just before closing and those onion-y treasures with a garlicky kick were long sold-out for the day.

Ramps are like that. They can only be harvested wild, they have a very short season and they are scooped up by knowing foodies anywhere they make an appearance.
Each spring my friend Marc, an excellent home cook, waxes poetic when he reveals his swoon-y devotion to the elusive ramp. Last year he served up a ramp bruschetta that was indeed swoon-worthy and I wrote up his  recipe as a post for Edible Queens.

This year Marc's seasonal offering is a vinaigrette made with an entire bunch of uncooked ramps pureed directly into the sauce. He drizzled the vinaigrette over a salad, splashed some on his cooked vegetables, served it as a dip for toasted crusty bread, and then had to keep himself from drinking it straight out of the bottle. Goodness! Sounds like a winner.

Super frustrated by my late arrival to the market I settled on these stunning purple scallions as a ramp substitute. The color beguiled!
Following the spirit of Marc's recipe, I was pleased with the results. The vinaigrette is thick and aromatic and combines nicely with spinach or baby arugula in a salad.

Marc's ramp version is for those who like a robust experience. His young daughter, who at age seven is quite the gourmand in her own right, found it a bit too fort for her tastes. So, forewarned, I am dousing my greens gently as I serve it up to my own family.
Ah springtime!

Ramp Vinaigrette
Note: if you are substituting scallions for the ramps, add a clove or two of raw garlic as well. 
Use good quality extra-virgin olive oil. I occasionally splurge at Fairway, spending time at their olive oil tasting bar to find the most fragrant, unctuous liquid I can find. A good quart bottle can run to $20 or more.

1 bunch of ramps, roughly chopped
4 anchovy fillets
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
8-10 grinds of fresh pepper
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons honey
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Pulse the mixture several times to mince up the ramps. Then, with the machine running slowly drizzle in your olive oil and puree until the mixture comes together. You will have a thick, delightfully green sauce. Taste for seasonings and adjust.
 Can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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