Saturday, April 14, 2007

Baby Ramp Bruschetta

Two years ago we moved near one of the city's best greenmarkets. I’ve always loved watching New York change with the seasons, but now the market acts as a conduit to the world beyond the city.

Eating seasonally has taken on an ease and straightforwardness that reminds me of my childhood in a small village. Mass availability can actually be limiting to the cook!

I was thrilled to spy a small basket of baby ramps on the north side of the market yesterday. Ramps, or wild leeks, are a member of the onion family (Alliaceae). They are far thinner than the fibrous leeks most of us are familiar with, and they have long reddish stems that split into broad, tender leaves. Their flavor falls somewhere between mild onions and garlic.

It’s early for ramps, and I snapped up a bunch knowing it might be a while before I saw them again. A multigrain boule seemed the perfect nutty, crusty foil for the tender, impossibly green leaves, and I brought both home to make a simple bruschetta using some other members of the Alliaceae family (shallots, garlic, and chives) to underline the ramps’ flavor without overpowering them.

Add a crisp glass of something (I had a white Bordeaux in the fridge), and you’ve got the perfect early-spring lunch.

Serves 2

1 bunch baby ramps, well rinsed and patted dry
extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and minced
kosher salt
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced or grated
2 thick slices multigrain bread
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp chives, roughly chopped
few mint leaves, roughly chopped
juice of ½ lemon
good Parmesan cheese

Preheat a grill pan or your broiler.

Trim the very bottom end of the ramps to remove the roots. Roughly chop the white and red portion and cut the green leaves in half to make their length more manageable.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add some olive oil and then the shallots. Sprinkle with a good pinch of kosher salt and sauté until slightly translucent. Add the garlic and ramp stems, and sauté 1 minute longer, stirring often.

Meanwhile, toast both sides of the bread on the grill pan or under your broiler. Add the red pepper flakes to the ramp stems and add the ramp leaves. Stir until they are just wilted. Add the chives, mint, and lemon juice, check the seasoning, and remove from the heat. Using a vegetable peeler, shave some Parmesan cheese over the mixture and stir gently.

Place the toasted bread on 2 plates. Drizzle generously with more of the olive oil, and sprinkle with a little salt. Divide the ramps between the two, and then shave some more Parmesan cheese over the top. Finish with any extra chives and mint, and serve immediately.

1 comment:

erover said...

Bruschetta is so often boring--and for no reason! A friend of mine took me to a wonderful ristorante in Phoenix called Postino Winebar. We went specifically for the bruschetta, which was memorable with toppings such as goat cheese, pistachios, proscuitto, parmesan, artichokes, capers, dried cranberries. Everything washed down with a bright pinot noir.

Do you have more bruschetta recipes? I love them not just as appetizers but as a wonderful light dinner. What's better than fresh crusty bread with creative toppings?

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