Sunday, April 20, 2008

Springy Ramps & Asparagus

Walking into the Union Square Greenmarket around 8:30 Saturday morning, I was nearly run over by a man pushing a dolly filled with crates of ramps, those tasty, wild leeks that appear in early spring. I got to Rick Bishop's Mountain Sweet Berry stand just as a swarm of chefs (or minions of chefs) were descending, and plucked two bunches off the pile. I also picked up some beautiful, skinny asparagus from Yuno's Farm.

Last spring, I sauteed ramps, which have a pungent bite, in garlic and olive oil and tossed them with some pasta. This year, I followed an Epicurious recipe for a ramps pesto of sorts, in which you quickly blanch the ramps, coarsely chop them, then blend them in a food processor with lemon zest, olive oil, some starchy pasta water and salt. The result was less rampy than last year's treatment; Fork seemed a little disappointed in the ramps' toned-down flavor, but I liked the subtlety of the dish. There was also a nice zing from the lemon.

I went with a Cook's Country recipe for Asparagus Salad, which is definitely a keeper. Topped with fresh chives, it's very springy indeed.--S

Lemon Asparagus Salad

serves 8

2 lbs asparagus, trimmed
Salt & pepper
1/4 c juice from 2 lemons
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T honey
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 T finely chopped fresh chives

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add asparagus and 1 T salt and cook until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer to bowl of ice water. When completely cool, drain and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Combine lemon juice, mustard, honey, garlic, 1/2 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper in bowl. Slowly whisk in oil to emulsify. Stir in chives. Arranged asparagus on platter and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve. [I topped the dish with some more chopped chives.]

Recipe courtesy of Cook's Country

No comments: