Wild Edibles Recipes

Local Asparagus Tart
with Organic Bacon, Morels, Ramps and Fifth Town Goat's Cheese

Difficulty Level: Easy
For 2-3

12 spears green asparagus
1/4 pound morel mushrooms
6 pieces ramps, or spring onions
2 cups arugula leaves
1 log Fifth Town Ash-Covered Goat's Cheese (or local equivalent)
6 slices maple-cured bacon
½ pound puff pastry

1. Roll the puff pastry out to ½-inch thick rectangle. Prick the surface with a fork. Place the pastry on a sheet pan, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil or a sheet of parchment paper and another sheet pan. Weigh the top sheet pan down, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for baking the pastry. I baked mine at 400F for 15 minutes.

2. If using dried morels, soak in warm water for 15-20 minutes.

3. Blanch the green asparagus in well-seasoned boiling water until knife-tender. Drain in a colander and run cold water over the asparagus to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

4. Fry the bacon in a skillet until cooked to desired crispness. Drain on paper towels. Remove excess bacon fat from the pan.

5. Add the ramps to the skillet and cook until tender. Add a little olive oil to the pan if it is too dry.

6. Drain the morels and squeeze out any excess water. Saute the morels whole or chopped, your choice, until soft.

7. Slice the goat's cheese into ¼-inch thick rounds.

8. Place the puff pastry on your serving platter. Scatter the arugula over the tart shell. Place the rest of the vegetables as you see fit on top of the arugula. Finish the tart with the slices of maple-cured bacon and goat's cheese. Garnish with some freshly ground black pepper.

Adapted from Chef David Lee in The Globe and Mail, Wed, May 28, 2008.

Wild Spring Edibles at the Farmer's Market

Last week at the farmers' market, I found two harbingers of spring cooking: ramps and fiddleheads. Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are one of those vegetables like Jerusalem artichokes that used to be considered an invasive weed and is now a sought after commodity. They are among the first fresh vegetables to come to the market after the long winter and they don't last long, so you have to catch them when you can.

Ramps aren't cheap, but on the other hand, if you need a little spring tonic, $6 isn't so much to pay for a treat. (Or, visit your friends who live near North Country Ramps Capitol, Russell, NY and bring home a few!)  And other than cutting off the root, you use the entire plant, so there is no waste. Ramps have a more delicate taste than leeks or green onions, with a bit of grassiness. I wouldn't use them as a background as you would with onions, but make them a major ingredient so that you can capture their full flavor which cannot be described as mild.

I made a simple pasta dish and served it with a green salad and it was delightful. The dish I made was vegetarian, but if you wanted to add another layer of flavor you could add some pancetta (or bacon) to your pan first and then cook the ramps in the rendered fat. This is another "throw-together" recipe, so the amounts are approximate. As always, feel free to experiment.
By: Kelly Rossiter

Pasta with Ramps
Difficulty Level: Dead Easy
For 2

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb ramps, root removed, washed and coarsely chopped - bulb and leaves separated
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese
a bit of reserved water from cooking the pasta
cooked pasta for 2

1. Heat oil in pan and add the bulb portion of the ramps. Saute until almost tender. My ramps were very thin and they took about 5 minutes. Add the green portion to the pan and saute until just wilted.
2. Add a bit of reserved water from cooking the pasta, just enough to make a light sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Serve over pasta and add Parmesan cheese.

Leek Tart
Difficulty Level: Easy, though more ingredients to work with than above.
For 2-3

This is for larger leeks but you could substitute some wonderful local scallions and our own ramps (wild leeks) instead, though far fewer due to their potency compared to their larger leek cousins!

1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
Salt and black pepper
One 14-ounce package Dufour or other all-butter puff pastry
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 to 4 leeks, white and light green parts only; cut diagonally into 1/3-inch wide slices, to make a total of 2 cups (less for ramps!)

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (substitute a small pinch of dried thyme if needed)
Salt and black pepper
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese (Swiss, Sharp Cheddar or Asiago are possible substitutes if you can't find Gruyère, though nothing beats the richness of a good Gruyère!)
12 oil-cured pitted black olives, torn or cut in half (get the more flavorful ones sold in bulk at the deli section, rather than the usual canned ones that are quite bland)

1. In a bowl, combine ricotta with egg yolk and olive oil; whisk until well blended. Stir in sour cream, and season with salt and pepper.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To make the pastry, cut pastry into six four-inch squares, and lightly score a border about 1/4 inch from the edge. Lightly score a criss-cross pattern in the inside of the square. Place on a baking sheet and bake until puffed and lightly browned, 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and poke the center with a fork to allow steam to escape. Cool for 10 minutes.

3. To make the topping, place a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Melt butter, add leeks and thyme, and sauté until leeks are soft and lightly caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.

4. Brush the edge of the puff pastry with beaten egg yolk. Spread scored area of pastry with the ricotta base, and sprinkle evenly with Gruyére. Top with leeks and olives. Bake until the edges are golden brown, and the cheese is bubbling, 10 to 14 minutes. Serve hot.

NY Times April 18, 2011 

Wild Leek Biscuits with Cracked Coriander Seeds
Difficulty Level: Easy
For 2-3
... My daughter initially thought the leek was too strong, but when she tried a second one she changed her mind. I thought the leek flavour was wonderful and not overpowering at all. The coriander on top gave them a nice hit of something unexpected.These would also be nice with a bit of Parmesan cheese mixed in.

This recipe is from the website Klutzy Chef. I simplified the directions a bit, because it seemed to me that there were too many mixing bowls in play, and I don't want to wash more dishes than I need to.


Wild Leek Biscuits with Cracked Coriander Seeds

3/4 cup chilled buttermilk
3/4 cup thinly sliced ramps (approx. 25 grams)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 tbsp (3/4 stick or 85 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, beaten (for glaze)
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, cracked

1. Preheat oven to 425°F/215°C.

2. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add butter and break down the butter with your fingers, until a fine meal forms. You can also use a food processor for this if you wish.

3. Add buttermilk/ramps stirring until dough forms.Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and press out to 7-inch round, about 1/2 inch thick. Using 2-inch diameter biscuit cutter dipped in flour, or a glass, cut out rounds. Gather dough scraps; press out to 1/2-inch thickness and cut out additional rounds.

4. Transfer rounds to baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush biscuit tops with some of egg and sprinkle with cracked coriander seeds. Bake biscuits until golden brown (between 15-20 minutes). Serve warm with butter.

Source: www.treehugger.com/files/2010/04/weekday-vegetarian-wild-leek-biscuits.php
Weekday Vegetarian: Wild Leek Biscuits with Cracked Coriander Seeds
by Kelly Rossiter, Toronto on 04.30.10  Food & Health