April 27, 2008
Ramps, Two Ways
Ramps are a sign of spring. And spring is truly here, with wild warm days that have helped my soul crawl out of the drudgery of winter. Spring has reminded me how great the world can be when it is actually sunny and warm and green everywhere. A kind of wild leek, ramps appear in early spring and don't stay in season for long. I was thrilled when I saw them at the Greenmarket last week and snatched them right up. They can be used in place of onions or garlic, and they are also traditionally eaten with bacon and scrambled eggs.
Since I've already used up my bacon allottment for the month, I chose to pep up my eggs and ramps with butter and a cheddary cheese. Together with a sourdough rye (also from the Greenmarket because I was too busy to bake bread last week), it was a perfect hearty breakfast. Ramps have a very distinct flavor, which is a little more earthy and pungent in smell and taste than onions or leeks. When I rinsed my ramps, I found they had a weird film at the bottom which I peeled off. Also, FYI, you can eat the white bottom part and the green leaves (unlike leeks, of which you can only eat the white part).
Scrambled Eggs and Ramps
1 tbsp butter
1/2 bunch ramps
1 tbsp milk
2 tbsp cup grated cheddar cheese
Rinse the ramps and chop off the very bottom. Chop into small pieces and sautee over medium low heat in butter until wilted. Meanwhile, slice your bread and place in toaster. Then, whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and cheese in a small bowl until combined. Once ramps are wilted, add egg mixture and stir continually until eggs are just cooked through. Butter your toast and plate with scrambled eggs and ramps.
For dinner tonight, I had planned on using up the ramps in a side dish with swiss chard and orzo, paired with little lamb chops. But when Jesse saw the lamb chops, he decried them as too small, even though the very same size was sufficient last time we had lamb chops. And so I rode my bike off to rehearsal, my first solo ride into Manhattan(go me!!), with plans to pick up a bunch of shrimp on the way home to replace the bitty chops.
Well, frozen shrimp isn't as easy to find as I hoped, and I had to scrounge around to four supermarkets before I found it (ended up at Trader Joe's of course). Once back in Brooklyn, Jesse agreed with me that we should meet at home for dinner. And so I rode home and cooked up dinner quick. Only to get a text saying he's still at the bar, already ate, and will be home "relatively soon" which is now an hour and a half later and nothing. So this dinner will become tomorrow's lunch, and in the meantime, perhaps you might enjoy this dish. From little bites, I can tell you that it was exactly what I was looking for - creamy orzo with lemony shrimp and greens and the pungent taste of ramps. I think feta cheese would kick the whole dish up a notch, but I was too cheap to buy it after so many recent grocery purchases.
Orzo with Shrimp, Ramps, and Swiss Chard
1 cup orzo
15 small shrimp (I used frozen, cooked shrimp with tails already cut off for ease)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 bunch ramps
1/2 bunch swiss chard
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
Place orzo in a pot of salted water, bring to boil, and let simmer about 5 minutes, until orzo is tender. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Meanwhile, place shrimp in a bowl of water and let sit for about 10 minutes until defrosted.
Rinse and chop off bottoms of ramps and chop into small pieces. Sautee over medium low heat with butter until wilted.
Rinse and chop swiss chard leaves into small pieces, discarding stems at bottom. Add swiss chard, salt, and pepper to the pan and continue to sautee until wilted.
Add shrimp, orzo and lemon juice to the pan, and stir to combine. Cook another couple minutes until shrimp are heated through. Grate parmesan over top and serve.