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Ramps Growing Wild

15 Apr
Spring Harvest: Ramps and Sicilian Tomatoes

Spring Harvest: Ramps and Sicilian Tomatoes

By now it is commonplace: in April riding my bike through the English garden with the scent of “Baerlauch,” or “ramps” in English, in the air. The park is absolutely carpeted with the stuff and I want to get off my bike on every trip through and abscond with huge handfuls of the stuff.

But I can barely keep up with using it, so I limit the collection to a couple times each season. Today was one of those days. The weather here is absolutely miserable, but I am soooooo happy to be in Munich after the last two months of travel misery. (I am such a complainer, I know). I feel like a freaking ping pong ball with the trips back and forth between Munich, New York, and last week Walldorf. I think in the last two months I have managed to cook (and be) in my own kitchen fewer times than I have fingers on one hand. Pathetic. And Tuesday I’m off again, which already makes me a tad bit miserable. Thankfully, the end is in sight. One more stint for 7 days in New York and then I am done – at least for awhile.

Anyway, after about a 5 minute picking session in the rain my plastic bag was bulging with fresh ramps. What to make? Usually I make a lovely aromatic loaf of bread, which when toasted in the morning and spread with some butter and eaten while drinking a fresh cup of bitter hot coffee…wow, almost nothing better to wake up to, at least if you don’t like sweets in the morning, which I don’t.

But there was plenty in my bag and it seemed like a nice chance to try a new dish. I had some rice in the cupboard from quite awhile ago – a venetian black rice – which is quite classically cooked in a similar way to a risotto, although it is not quite as creamy.

Black Ventian Rice

Black Ventian Rice

And I had some seafood as well – a small piece of salmon, a handful of shrimp and squid.

Ingredients for Seafood Rice

Ingredients for Seafood Rice

I took my time making dinner. Chopped everything up first, which I don’t always do, but I wanted to see all the spring colors coming together on the plate. Then a nice slow saute of the vegetables: garlic, a shallot, a chilli, the ramps, a couple baby corn cobs, a handful of parsley, grated lemon zest, tomatoes from Sicily, which are just now coming to the market and taste so good (even better in a month!). Then the rice, like risotto, allowed to mellow in the vegetables for a few minutes before being doused with some broth and wine and slowly cooked to a plump finish.

Venetian Black Risotto with Seafood

Venetian Black Risotto with Seafood

Heavenly. One more night tomorrow to cook something (ramps with scalloped potatoes?) and then onto the plane.

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