I’m a sucker for local, seasonal produce, especially in early spring after a long, grisly winter.
Ramps are the first spring greens we usually see pop up at farmers’ markets. Chefs go nuts for these wild onions, which are foraged, not cultivated, so they are that much more precious.
Smaller than scallions, ramps have a mild garlicky/oniony flavor, which is wonderful. Yes, they will kind of smell up your fridge, but that’s a small price to pay. Ramps can be made into pesto, eaten raw in salads, tossed into soups or pasta, made into compound butters — really anyplace you would use members of the allium family. But be quick because ramps have a short season and will be gone before you know it.
This risotto was a bit of a revelation. I made it for dinner last night, and we finished every last grain of rice. This is a dairy version, but it could easily be made a meat dish by using chicken broth or pareve by omitting the cheese and butter.
Serves two as a main, four as a side
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 bunch ramps
- 3½ cups vegetable stock
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons butter
Parmesan cheese for serving
Soak the ramps in a large bowl of water to rinse thoroughly. Remove the roots and then divide the white part from the leafy green stalk.
Bring the wine and stock to a simmer in a small saucepan; maintain a simmer throughout the cooking process.
Chop the white part of the ramp and place it in a large skillet with the oil, rice, salt and pepper. Chop the green stalks and set them aside.
Cook the rice mixture over medium until the ramps are fragrant and the rice is glistening, about 2 minutes.
Add 1 cup of broth and stir until it’s absorbed. Add another cup and repeat. Gradually add the remaining liquid a cup at a time until it is all absorbed. This takes about 20 minutes.
Add the ramp greens and stir well until just wilted, then add the butter and stir it to melt. Serve with Parmesan cheese.