Foraging season has begun and ramps, or “wild onion”, are beginning to sprout up all over. Growing in large patches where the sunlight breaks through the forest’s tree canopy, you can almost find them from smell alone. The aroma of onion and garlic is fairly pungent on these tender spring onions. If you go out ramp hunting, make sure you follow foraging procedure by only picking five percent of what’s available (or what you can process within three days, as they go off quickly).
1 Cup Ramp leaves, blanched*
1/2 Cup Fresh Parsley
1/2 Cup Fresh Basil, blanched*
1 – 2 Cloves Garlic, rasped or minced
1/3 Cup Sunflower Seeds, toasted*
1/3 Cup Parmesan, rasped or finely grated
3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Lemon, juiced
Ice, as needed
In a blender, combine all of the ramp tops, parsley, basil and half of the remaining ingredients. Blend on medium speed, adding oil as you go. Adjust consistency and flavour by adding more of the remaining ingredients as necessary. If too thick, add ice to loosen consistency. Adjust seasoning with salt and lemon juice, store in air tight container in the fridge.
1.5 L Stock, Vegetable or Chicken
1.5 L Water
1 Cup Leeks, finely diced
1/2 Cup Shallot, finely diced
1/2 Cup Carrot, finely diced
1/2 Cup Celery, finely diced
2 Cups Arborio Rice
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
3/4 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Parmesan
1 Cup Peas, blanched*
1 bunch Asparagus, trimmed and blanched
1/2 Cup Ramp Pesto (see above recipe)
1/4 Cup Ramp bottoms, sliced on bias
Heat stock and water in a pot on the stove. In a separate pot, heat butter, and add leaks, carrot, celery and shallot. Cook until translucent, approximately 3 – 4 minutes. Add rice, stir to coat in fat and onion mixture. Add wine, followed by a few ladles of warm stock. Continue adding the stock in stages, stirring minimally and allowing the rice to absorb liquid before judiciously adding more.
Once desired consistency and texture** is achieved, stop adding the stock. Begin incorporating butter and parmesan, stirring as you add.
In a frying pan, reheat peas and asparagus in butter, allowing butter to glaze the vegetables.
Spoon some rice into the bottom of a warm bowl. Garnish with pesto and warmed vegetables. Top with fresh ramp bottoms and parmesan.
*Blanching: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season generously with Salt. Set up a bowl of ice water. Place vegetables and greens in boiling water and cook until they turn a vibrant green. (The more delicate the vegetable, the faster this will happen). Quickly remove and place in ice water to stop cooking. Drain on paper towel.
**Risotto should have enough liquid to spread when spooned, but not be too runny or thick. Rice should be cooked through, with a small amount of white in the middle.If you smear a grain of rice and it appears broken or chunky and not smooth, it is undercooked.