As I grow up I’m really starting to love Spring and embrace all that it brings. New life is everywhere. The weather gods stop threatening snow and the winter coats get stowed away. Finally the green grass shoots through the soil, the chirping chorus of birds returns and fresh vegetables grace our plates. It’s a beautiful time in the world, and their is fresh and bright food to be had, like this Wild Ramp Mushroom Risotto.
I found these beautiful ramps and shiitake mushrooms, along with fresh spinach at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market during opening weekend. Even though it was barely 50 degrees and raining pretty steadily, I was determined to find ramps, also known as a wild leek and part of the allium family. Their leaves are very delicate. The small, silky white bulbs gives off a rather garlicky scent and taste. As you can see, the stems have a bit of purple to them as well. This is one sexy vegetable ya’ll.
They may seem too pungent as your car fills with their scent on your drive home, but sautéed with some butter makes them a bit sweeter and soft – just plain delicious.
I tossed around a few ideas on what to do with all this great produce and decided upon a risotto since I conveniently had some white wine open. With a touch of Parmesan and a splash of lemon to brighten up the flavors, this is a spring vegetarian risotto that will bring sunshine to your plate.
A few notes:
1. I had never attempted risotto before because it seemed intimidating, but really folks, its easy peasy. The only tough part is tending to the stove to keep stirring it.
2. If you can’t use your ramps the day you buy them, lightly wrap them in damp paper towels, then store in a large ziploc bag in the refrigerator. If you don’t do this, the leaves will be very wilted.
3. The amount of broth depends on quite a few things. To make it simple, have about 8 cups on hand and just keep gradually adding a cup until the rice is al dente.
1 1/2 cups dry arborio rice
7-8 cups warm vegetable or chicken broth
12-15 wild ramps, rinsed and cleaned
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 T butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
2 cups coarsely chopped spinach
juice of one lemon and all of its zest
salt and pepper to taste
Cut leaves off of ramps, starting at the stem. You should have two piles, one with leaves, one with stems/bulbs. Coarsely chop the stems/bulbs,then do the same with the leaves, keeping them separate. In a saucepan, melt the butter, then add the onion, pinch of salt, and stems/bulbs of the ramps. Cook for about 2 minutes, until both are translucent. Then stir in rice and mushrooms, cooking for another 2 minutes, until their is a white spot in the middle of the rice, looking somewhat like a tooth. Add white wine, bring to a simmer and stir until absorbed. Add one cup of warm stock (I usually have mine in covered pot on stove next to it.) and stir until absorbed. Continue adding stock by the cup and stir, stir, stir, each time letting it absorb into the rice. (If you don’t let it all absorb the rice will get gummy) Cook until rice is al dente, then stir in spinach and ramp leaves. These will only take about a minute to cook down. Finish the risotto by mixing in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and Parmesan. Add salt and pepper by 1/4 teaspoon to taste until flavors pop!
Adapted from this recipe by The Garden of Eating