Two vegetables that have become synonymous with the early days of spring are asparagus and ramps. Asparagus has always been a favorite of mine. Another vegetable I avoid out-of-season, as it never tastes the same. But when those crisp tender stalks hit the Greenmarkets, I’m usually roasting, sautéing or steaming at least 2-3 times a week. Overindulgence almost makes me grow sick of asparagus, as June rolls around, leaving me satisfied for another year to come.
But ramps. How is it that until about 2 years ago, I never even knew what these beautiful wispy greens were?! I first discovered them at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket. With no idea of what I was getting into and no plan, I purchased a few bunches. Still, my favorite preparation is soft scrambled eggs with sharp cheddar. Last year I even attempted my own gnocchi. Pretty much any recipe that could involve ramps, in my household, does.
With such a fleeting window of harvest for both these amazing vegetables, what better than combine them into a single dish? The addition of mushrooms added some heartiness, still appropriate as the days continue from winter to summer. (Because really, do we get much spring these days?). Plus a dash of lemon for brightness. This is a dish you need to make now. Because in two weeks, you probably won’t be able to.
Asparagus Ramp Sauté (Serves 4-6)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 bunches asparagus, woody ends removed and sliced into 2-inch pieces
- 2 c sliced cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
- 1 large bunch of ramps, thinly sliced, green parts only
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saute pan, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add the asparagus and mushrooms, cooking until asparagus is bright green and just tender. Meanwhile, zest and juice the lemon.
Stir ramps into the asparagus until just wilted. Add lemon juice, zest and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for bacon and fig Brussels sprouts slaw. Shredding Brussels sprouts was revolutionary for me. Just a few weeks after having the Brussels and bacon slaw at my in-laws’ Thanksgiving feast, I had a similar dish but cold at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, Petit Oven. Raw Brussels sprouts spiked with lemon juice and kalamata olives. I knew I needed to replicate this dish.
Thanksgiving was a little different this year. Usually my husband and I celebrate with both families on the same day. Early supper at 2pm with my family followed a later dinner at 6pm with his family, both with tables topping a dozen guests. Don’t even talk to me about food comas. But this year we did mini celebrates, one per day. On actual Thanksgiving we celebrated at my grandma’s with my immediate family dining on a traditional turkey with (much appreciated) gluten-free everything on the side. Dinner number one was delicious, but it was Friday’s dinner at my in-laws house that blew my mind. And it had nothing to do with the fancy cherry-stuffed turkey roulade.
This has been an unusually mild summer. I’ve hardly had the air conditioning on all summer except for a few nights. There’s been a calm breeze and sometimes even a bit chilly at night. Still, with longer days, slaving away at a stove to make dinner isn’t exactly ideal. Sometimes raw is the way to go. I’m not talking crazy fancy, restaurant raw food but a simple chopped salad. One of the best things about fresh produce is it needs very little seasoning to make it spectacular.
For me Spring isn’t just about the warm temperatures, sunny skies and longer days (though that certainly helps!), it’s about the produce. My regular routine begins to kick in again with early Saturday mornings at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, a stop by the Park Slope Food Coop and home to unpack all my current finds followed by canning, brunching or whatever else ensues. It’s almost impossible not to come home, arms sore from carrying bags brimming with fresh picked treats. Baby lettuces, crisp stalks of asparagus, sweet, ripe strawberries–no matter how many bags I bring with me, I never seem to have enough room to carry it all.