Wild food is the most seasonal of all, strictly governed by micro-climatic changes and local conditions, be they soil-related or caused by man or beast. That’s why ramps have such a strong on our collective culinary imagination this month, with everything from ramps pesto to ramps ice-cream tempting us from restaurants, magazines and friendly kitchens in your own neighborhood.
They’re simple to enjoy. Whether they taste like strong green onions or mild garlic chives depends on your perspective, but either way, use them sparingly, and unless you’re extremely allium oriented, they’re best eaten cooked, whether sauteed or blanched.
For pesto, blanch the in boiling water for about one minute, then grind with fresh herbs; try nettles instead of basil, as it’s also wild nettle season. And while you’re there, consider replacing traditional pesto pine nuts with walnuts, or with black walnuts if you’re able to source them.
For ice cream, simply make your ice cream recipe as usual, but omit the sweetener. Extra salt and pepper, and finely minced and sauteed ramps will produce a wonderfully savory ice cream to enjoy on its own, or as a meltingly delicious semi-solid side ‘sauce’ with a hot entree, for example, roast chicken.
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