Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Ramps are one of the first really exciting items to emerge at the farmers' market in the spring. While I admit to being a bit turned off by their popularity among fine diners, I finally bought a bunch for myself and now appreciate what some of the fuss is all about. They're a little sweet, a little grassy, a little onion-y, and a little garlicky without being very harsh. A quick peek around the food blogs will bring recipes for pasta with ramps, pizza with ramps, and tarts with ramps. You can also hoard them now and enjoy ramp butter or pickled ramps beyond their short season. I chose to saute my Allium tricoccum with asparagus and toss it all into a bread salad. Sure, there was also roast chicken for dinner, but this tasty side dish got a little more attention.
Panzanella with Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Ramps
3 slices prosciutto (or pancetta or bacon)
4 oz stale bread, torn into bite-size pieces
5 ramps, chopped (keep bulbs and leaves separate)
2/3 lb asparagus (about 10-12 medium stalks), cut into 1-inch pieces
8 mushrooms (I used cremini and shiitake), cleaned and quartered
2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Add a bit of olive oil (or not, if you're using bacon or pancetta), and fry prosciutto on both sides until slightly crispy. Set aside when done.
Meanwhile, toss bread with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven (I used my toaster oven) for 10-15 minutes, until barely browned.
In the same pan that the prosciutto was in, add chopped ramp bulbs and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. After a couple minutes, add mushrooms. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, tossing occasionally. Add chopped ramp leaves, and cook just until they wilt. Turn off heat, and add vinegar.
Chop prosciutto into bite-size pieces. Add bread, prosciutto, and vegetable mixture to a bowl, and toss to coat everything evenly. Drizzle olive oil over the salad if it looks like it needs some. Serve beneath a portion of roast chicken, and try not to die of happiness.