Recipes, Salads & Sides, Vegetables

Asparagus Ramp Sauté

Ramp Asparagus Saute

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.

Ramp Asparagus Saute

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.

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Lamb, Main Dishes, Recipes

Spring Lamb Stew

Spring Lamb Stew

Spring can be a bit unpredictable. Just last weekend it was 80 degrees in Brooklyn. Followed immediately by a blustery 50 degree day. The variability is actually one of my favorite parts of spring. It opens up a full spectrum of dishes to try. Some days it’s warm, and you feel like grilling. But on chillier evenings, you can still enjoy maybe your last bowl of soup until fall comes around.

Last year for Easter, I felt the need to make lamb. It’s just so traditional. Considering I’m not a huge fan of lamb, it’s not something I cook often, with the exception of my at least once-a-month lamb with peas rotational dish. I wasn’t about to invest in a while rack of lamb. There’s nothing worse than splurging on a fancy cut of meat, only to mess it up. I did not want to risk an overcooked lamb dish. So instead, my mind shifted to stew.

Like many braises, it’s a dish that can be cooked well in advance, letting you spend your evening with your guests, rather than holed up in the kitchen. Slow stewed lamb, crisp asparagus, tender carrots and fresh herbs come together in this spring-on-a-plate dish. True when I made this dish, it was too early for local asparagus, so I had to fudge things a bit. But any day now, we should see those tender stalks shooting up at farm stands. A perfect mother’s day supper, me thinks.

Spring Lamb Stew with Green Herbs (adapted from Cooking Light) Serves 6

  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 4 c chopped onions
  • 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 lb lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 bottle fruity white wine (I used gewürztraminer)
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • A few cranks of fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp each chopped fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano, mixed together
  • 1/2 lb turnips, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb asparagus, trimmed of woody ends and cut into 2-inch pieces

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic to pan and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Spoon onion mixture into a large bowl. Add half the lamb to the pan and saute until browned. Remove from pan and add to the onion mixture. Add the remaining lamb to the pan, brown and add to onion mixture.

Add wine to the pan, scrapping the pan to loosen the browned bits. Return lamb mixture to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Add half the herb mixture and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and summer for 90 minutes, or until lamb is very tender.

Add turnips and carrots. Continue to simmer, covered, for 40 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add asparagus and cook until asparagus is bright green and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining herb mixture. Serve aside roasted new potatoes and plenty of bread to soak up the sauce.

Recipes, Salads, Salads & Sides

Meatless Mondays: Warm Spring Salad

Warm Spring Salad (1)

Locavore living isn’t always easy. The bulk of our winter food consists of root vegetables, beans, grains, greens, frozen and canned stuff. We cheat a bit, mostly with stuff we wouldn’t be able to get around here anyway like citrus and avocados. But for the most part we try to live locally. So when spring arrives and the Greenmarkets start showing evidence of food other than cellared winter produce, you can imagine I get a bit excited. Too excited, maybe. I fill my bags with asparagus, ramps, lettuce and quarts of strawberries, completely ignoring how perishable some items are and there’s only two mouths to feed. I started canning for just that reason, to make sure we weren’t wasting things.  Most meals use a little of this and a little of that, leaving me with odd quantities of produce left over, threatening to spoil. In the winter, all these things would easily be tossed into a kitchen sink stew, cooking on the stove or in the slow cooker for hours, maybe with some beef or sausage. However in the warmth of the summer, I want nothing like that. So my kitchen sink meals get a bit more creative.

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Recipes, Salads & Sides, Vegetables

Simple Sides: Balsamic Roasted Asparagus

Roasted Asparagus (4)

It just isn’t spring without asparagus. I slept in a little last Saturday. I knew I had to get to the greenmarket early to guarantee the freshest produce, but with the weather being extra soggy, I figured an extra hour wouldn’t really matter. Boy was I wrong. Note to self: Greenmarket shoppers are hardcore. Rain, sleet, snow or torrential downpour. They’ll be there, especially during the early weeks of spring where a bunch of green asparagus or rosy red rhubarb is like a blinding ray of sunshine among an otherwise grey day. So if you want the good stuff, you better be there bright and early too.

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Get Local, Local Produce

An Ode to Garlic (Scapes)

garlic_scapes

Most people fantasize about crisp asparagus, stalks of tender rhubarb or sweet, juicy strawberries as spring draws near. I might be the only exception. As soon as the weather starts to warm and greenmarkets gradually switch their produce offerings from cellared root vegetables and apples to bright greens that signal Spring is here to stay, I have only one thing on my mind: Garlic Scapes.

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