Summer suddenly appeared at the Farmer’s Market like a thief in the night. The market felt vaguely familiar but yet at the same very moment strangely different. The fiery heat wave abruptly ended Spring’s explosion. Suddenly the stands were brimming with sweet cherries, real tomatoes, vibrant eggplants, emerald zucchini and fragrant basil. I wasn’t quite ready for the change but then Summer didn’t ask for permission to intrude on my innocent bliss. I was offered only the choice to accept it. From March thru May, farmers buried us under a mountain of baskets filled with flowering brassicas, perfect miniature icicle radishes and early Spring lambs lettuce. Foragers pulled wild miner’s lettuce, flowering wild onions, peppery watercress, fiddleheads and ramps from hidden beds deep within the dank waking forest. Fishermen added their catch to the feast with translucent fleshed halibuts and fatty wild king salmon returning to the Columbia River to begin their famed runs. Overjoyed and spinning like a Sufi whirling dervish of Istanbul, I was easily seduced by this season’s garlicky allium tricoccum, better known as ramps. I bought my last pound and went home to prepare three easy ways to prolong the goodbye.
1. Ramp Pickles
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 pound fat ramps bulbs
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon white peppercorns
- 1⁄2 teaspoon caraway seed
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- Blanch ramp bulbs in a large pot of boiling, salted water.
- Immediately stop the cooking by dropping bulbs into an ice bath.
- Drain and place in a sterilized 1 quart glass jar with airtight lid.
- Combine salt, all remaining ingredients, and 1 cup water in saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and cook until sugar dissolve.
- Pour mixture over ramps and tightly seal jar.
- Cook jar submerged in boiling water for ten minutes.
- Let cool to room temperature and then store till ready to eat.
2. Ramp Vodka
This recipe is so simple it requires only a few words. Stuff three or four ramps into a clean jar. Top with vodka, screw the top on and wait two weeks. Then make yourself a delicious ramp Bloody Mary.
3. Oregon Ramp Pesto
My goal was a pesto unique to the Pacific Northwest. The hazelnuts are stronger than traditional pine nuts but they add a certain flavor that is yummy. It is very versatile. I eat it on bruschetta, pasta, Columbia River king salmon and even artichoke tarts.
- 1 clove Garlic
- ¼ cup of roasted hazelnuts
- 1 cup Parmesan, grated finely
- 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound of ramp greens, blanch and shocked
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Put garlic, hazelnuts, parmesan and olive oil into bowl of food processor. Process till smooth and creamy.
- Add blanched ramp greens that has been squeezed completely dry and puree till bright green and smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper
3a. Artichoke, Caramelized Onion and Ramp Pesto Tart
Since this is a bonus recipe I am not going to write anything particularly detailed. Really, it is so simple. Pour a big glass of a Provencal rose and get to it. Slice cooked artichoke bottoms (watch this video to see how to peel an artichoke quickly and easily), top with caramelized onions, a big scoop of ramp pesto and cover with puff pastry. Cut edges into a circle if you want. Bake at 400 degrees till browned and puffed. Flip over and eat!