RAMP IT UP

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I AM rAMPED. About ramps of course. Because what is more exciting than perennial wild onions?!?!?! Ramps are making their way onto more and more plates, and have a fleeting season since most of them are foraged. I started looking for them around Worcester at the beginning of May, but they were no where to be found at any grocery stores or farm stands in the area. Luckily I have some Vermont connections who were not only willing to buy me ramps, but transport them all the way down here (don’t worry, the trip was already planned, the ramps just jumped on for the ride). I was inspired by this Ramp Carbonara, but adapted it to reflect my fridge contents. The ramps were all I hoped for, the bulbs had a nice garlicky sweetness, but they softened far faster than leeks. The tops tasted a lot like garlic scapes, but had a texture more like spinach than scallions. Hopefully by this time next year I’ll have found a local spot to forage my own.

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Spaghetti with Ramps, Mushrooms, and Spicy Sausage

  • 1 lb ramps
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms (I used winecap, grown by a friend!), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 lb spaghetti or other pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmegiano Reggiano, or other hard cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Put a pot of water on to boil. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Remove the hairy ends from the ramps. Separate the bulbs from the leafy tops and thinly slice them. Then slice the leafy tops into 1″ strips.

If the sausage is in casings remove them and add to the frying pan. Break up the larger chunks and cook through, about 7 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat. Add in the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes until they are browned, then remove from the pan and put with the sausage.

Salt the pasta water and add the spaghetti to cook.

The mushrooms likely absorbed the fat left in the pan, so heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in just the ramp bulbs and saute for 7-8 minutes, until they are soft and start to take on a bit of color. Add the ramp tops to the pan and saute a few minutes more until they are wilted.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add in the sausage and mushrooms along with the ramps, cheese, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Taste, and adjust for salt, pepper, and red pepper as needed. If the pasta seems dry, add a bit more olive oil.

Further reading (updated 6/5/14): Why There’s A Black Market For Ramps In Quebec

Parsnip Applesauce Bread

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I adore parsnips. They do not get nearly as much attention as they deserve. I have roasted, fried, and smashed them, but nothing more creative until I saw a recipe for a parsnip cake in Heifer Farm’s Cookbook (which is really just a little printout).  I cursed myself for not having thought of baking with parsnips first, and then got very excited about my and parsnips future together. Parsnips are not all that different from carrots, and people bake with carrots all the time! Parsnips lack the moisture that carrots add to baked goods but they are less sweet and nuttier, which I think makes for a nicely refined baked good. I did make that parsnip cake, but I want to try it again and tweak the recipe before I share it. But that was just the beginning of my parsnip baking endeavors. Yesterday I saw this recipe for Applesauce Carrot Bread, and knew it would get a parsnip makeover. The bread is not overly sweet, moist, and perfectly spiced. It is even better warmed with a smear of apple butter.

Parsnip Applesauce Bread

Adapted from Food52

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (4.25 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4 oz) wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 oz) unrefined granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (3.75 oz) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded parsnips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8.5″ x 4.5″ loaf pan.

Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cloves.

Cream butter and both sugars together until lighter in color and fluffy. If you have an electric mixer at least let it go for a few minutes, if not, then until your arm gets tired.

Add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla extract to the creamed butter and sugar. Beat in the applesauce (the texture will be a little off, but fret not). Add in the dry ingredients slowly, mixing all the while and scraping down the edges of the bowl. When the flour mixture is fully integrated, fold in the shredded parsnips.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a tooth pick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing, otherwise it will break apart.