Grilled Ramps with Mustard Vinaigrette

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Saturday was Countryside Conservancy’s first outdoor farmer’s market of the year, and just as their welcome sign advertised, asparagus and ramps both made a strong showing.

Asparagus, ramps and - rutabaga? Oh my!

Asparagus, ramps and – rutabaga? Oh my!

To me, ramps are a sure sign of spring.  Ramps, scientific name Allium tricoccum (yep, I’m showing off a little bit), also known as wild leek or wild onion, look a bit like scallions with broad leaves, and taste like a cross between garlic and a sweet onion. They also have an extremely short season, so enjoy them while you can!

I was so happy to find ramps at the farmers market that I wanted to really showcase them somehow.  Last year, I made some ramp pesto, and used some in a stir fry with shrimp. Good, but not good enough. This spring, I wanted to try something different.

Enter the grill.

Best Christmas present ever!

Best Christmas present ever!

I wanted to grill the ramps, but I thought it needed a little something extra.  I had picked up some boneless pork chops from Brunty Farms at the market as well, and the ramps would definitely go well with pork.  I wanted some kind of sauce, but something that wouldn’t be overpowering.  I thought about treating the ramps like a warm salad, and it was obvious.  Vinaigrette!  Specifically, a mustard vinaigrette that would be awesome with grilled pork chops.  Done, and done.

The ramps were so easy to grill I can’t even call it a recipe.  First, I trimmed the ends of the bulbs.  Then I misted them with just a bit of olive oil and sprinkled on some salt.  I have an oil sprayer (like this one but red) that I love! I use it all the time.

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After I grilled the pork chops with just a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, I laid the ramps on the grill. The grill was crazy hot, and it literally just took a minute for the leaves to wilt and start to char.  As the ramps cooked, they smelled amazing!! A little smoky, garlicky and sweet at the same time – yum!

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One word of warning, though.  Be careful how you lay them on the grill – one wilted faster than I expected and slipped through the grates.  Next time, I would place them straight across the grates instead of as up and down as they are in this picture.

Once I pulled them off the grill, I drizzled some of the mustard vinaigrette on top and served them with the pork chops and a side of roasted asparagus (also from the farmers market, and also amazingly tasty).  My boyfriend even tried one of the ramps, although he wasn’t quite as excited about it as I was.

He was excited about the mustard vinaigrette, though!  He put it on the pork chop, the ramps, the asparagus, and if there had been anything else on the plate, I’m sure it would have been drenched in vinaigrette as well.  I made enough to have leftover, and it was just as good on a salad for a weekday lunch.

Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of your favorite grainy mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Salad dressings are easy – I just dumped all this in a mason jar, shook it up, and put it in the fridge until I needed it.  Love recipes like that.

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Have you ever had ramps, or seen them at a farmers market?  What seasonal plants/veggies are your favorite signs of spring?  

Pizza with Garlicky Mixed Greens

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I love the farmers market, and I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic year-round market ten minutes from my house.  (Woo Countryside!) One of my farmers market issues is overbuying greens.  (As I typed that, this is what I heard in my head:  Hi, my name is Melissa and I buy too many greens…Hi, Melissa!)

They always look so beautiful and so tasty, and and I end up coming home with bags like this:

Left to right:  Swiss chard and collard greens, baby swiss chard, spinach

Left to right: Swiss chard and collard greens, baby Swiss chard, spinach

I recently read the book An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adlar.  Not a traditional cookbook, but a fantastic book about cooking and food – I highly recommend it.  The author is passionate about eating well, but also eating responsibly and not wasting.  One of the things she suggests is to cook veggies, like greens, as soon as you get home from the market.

Typically, I use a little bit of greens right away, then rest get all wilty in the fridge while I forget about them for a couple of days.  This time, I got home from the market and started cooking. And boy, am I glad I did!

I took all three bags of greens, removed the big, tough-looking stems and gave the leaves a quick chop.

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I got out my only pot that I thought would hold all the greens – a heavy enamel dutch oven-style pot.  I covered the bottom of the pot with olive oil, turned the heat on medium-low and added six cloves of garlic, sliced.

Once the garlic started to turn just slightly golden brown, I turned up the heat.  I added all the greens (it took several handfuls to transfer them to the pot), salt, pepper and a good amount of red pepper flakes. I like ’em spicy.

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Because the pot was so full, I very carefully stirred the greens around until they were all coated in the garlicky oil.  I let them go for a few more minutes, stirring a couple of times, until they cooked down to a beautifully dark green pile in the bottom of the pot.

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Yum!  Yum, yum, yum.  The smell of the garlic, the lovely dark green color with bits of red Swiss chard stems poking out here and there….awesome.

Now, these are fabulous as is – immediately after cooking, or reheated a day or two later.  But I wanted to try something different.  And I just happened to have some freshly made pizza dough in the fridge.

My favorite pizza dough recipe comes from the book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish.  It’s easy, it’s consistently good, and it make an awesome thin crust pizza.

After I stretched out the pizza dough, I added a generous amount of the cooked greens (and garlic pieces).

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I kept it simple.  On top of the greens, I added sliced fresh mozzarella and some shredded asiago cheese, just because I happened to have it on hand.  I topped it with a few shakes of red pepper flakes and popped it in the oven at 500 degrees until the crust got brown and the cheese got bubbly. I preheated the oven with my pizza stone inside to help get the bottom crust all crispy.

Before cooking...

Before cooking…

...after cooking!

…after cooking!

Pizza may, in fact, be the perfect food. And this pizza was damn near perfect, if I do say so myself (and I do!).

Do you have any tricks or tips for using all your produce before it starts wilting?  Or do you have the willpower not to buy three large bags of greens at one time?  Or both?