Ramp Risotto...and Ramp & Morel Mushroom Tart
Updated: Nov 10, 2022
For a long time now I have been focused on cooking with simple ingredients. With the exception of Indian spices, all are available at any grocery store. But with spring comes the object of my guiltiest foodie obsession -- ramps! I know I should not get excited about an expensive, overhyped, limited-edition vegetable highly prized by insufferable, overfed farmers' market-going, provenance-inquiring Portlandia characters but I love them.
Ramps have steadily increased in popularity in the past twenty years. I just learned that, due to overharvesting, ramps have become endangered in some places. In case you were wondering whether this will limit my ramp consumption, their price actually does this for you. I bought two small handfuls of what look like miniature scallions for $7 a piece and that will probably be enough for us until next spring.
Most of us live in a time of such absurd plenty that it's hard to get excited about seasonal produce. My grandfather, born in 1911, once told me that as a child he received a Florida orange in his Christmas stocking. It was most likely the only orange he saw all year when he was growing up. As a kid in the 1970s, I recall my family getting very excited in November, when endives came into season. They were a special treat. We were told they had to be flown in from Belgium.
Ramps used to be foraged by hungry people, but now appear on restaurant plates, usually as a part of a "composition" of some blistered, pan-seared, or house-fermented foolishness. I was recently musing on the inverse: food items that, growing up, I believed were fancy and in fact were not-- they just happened to be deemed extravagant and therefore verboten at my house. These included Rowntree's Black Magic boxed chocolates; breakfast cereal variety packs--each cereal with their own adorable miniature boxes; red-white-and-blue Bomb Pops (we got homemade popsicles out of fruit juice frozen in metal molds); and, of course, any American candy or food product not available in Quebec, since scarcity drove the value of even cereal and chewing gum. If you had to drive to Plattsburgh to get them, we weren't going to get them. When I asked my husband this question, he had a conversation-ending answer: individually wrapped Kraft cheese slices, because government cheese came in a brick.
In honor of this week's rampalooza, I have two recipes to share.
1 bunch (~20 ramps) rinsed and trimmed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
~5 cups vegetable stock
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
zest of one lemon
chives or parsley and 1/2 tsp of lemon zest to garnish
For this recipe, I made my own vegetable stock with some leftover scallions, leeks, one potato, a red pepper a carrot and two celery sticks.
If you look hard, you can see the rubber band that tied the
scallions together I fished out of the broth before it boiled.
Put a pot of water on to boil.
Divide ramps into whites and greens. Thinly slice whites and set aside.
Blanch greens in boiling water until bright green ~45 seconds. Transfer to a strainer and run under cold water until completely chilled. Transfer to a blender. Blend on high speed, adding about a tablespoon of water if necessary, until it is a bright green puree. Set aside.
Heat butter and olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until foaming subsides.
Add ramp whites and cook, stirring frequently, until almost browned. Add a pinch of salt as they are cooking.
Add rice and cook, stirring and tossing frequently until rice is well-coated with the oil.
Add wine and cook, stirring until mostly absorbed.
Add 1 cup of stock at a time, stirring occasionally, until it is absorbed. Add more stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring until mostly absorbed after each addition, until rice is tender but still firm in the center.
Add half cup of stock, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and ramp puree.
Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is cooked through and risotto is creamy and loose.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish with chives or parsley and more lemon zest.
The risotto would be hard to surpass, but this tart was even better.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
4 oz. morel mushrooms
1 shallot, minced
~25 ramps, trimmed
4 oz. soft goat cheese
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1 egg yolk
1 sheet frozen, thawed puff pastry
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat half of the oil and butter in a skillet over high heat.
Saute the mushrooms until they release most of their liquid, about 5 minutes.
Turn down the heat to medium and add shallots, stirring occasionally, until shallots are soft and translucent and liquid is gone, ~5 minutes more. Season with salt to taste.
Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
Return skillet to heat along with remaining oil and butter. Add ramps and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a plate and let cool.
In a medium bowl, stir together goat cheese, cream, 1 tbsp. lemon zest, egg yolk, and salt and pepper until smooth; set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place square of puff pastry on parchment and fold and score edges to create a rim around the edge of the tart.
Spread mushrooms over dough and place dollops of cheese mixture around mushrooms. Arrange ramps over cheese and mushrooms. Bake tart until crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle flaky salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.