Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ramps with Curried Potatoes

I love seasonal foods. It gives you something to look forward to as another year passes. Some things are available, but not plentiful, during off-seasons. Other things, like ramps, are only available in season for a short while. You have to strike at just the right time and now is the right time.

Ramps are a cousin of the leek. They taste like a combination of onion and garlic, with a bit more bite. Normally a recipe like this would have sauteed onions and garlic in it, but there's no need for them. The ramps are the perfect two-for-one veggie. Ramps can be a little hard to find if you don't know where to look. They won't be at your normal, run-of-the-mill stores. In Seattle, I find them at Central Market or (sometimes) Whole Foods. You can usually find them at farmer's markets as well. If you don't see them, just ask. The people there usually know where things are if they don't have them.

Fenugreek can be the same way, so don't worry if you can't find any. There's so little of it in here it won't hugely alter the flavor profile if you substitute it for thyme or parsley.

This is a quick and easy thing to make. It's substantial enough to be a nice light dinner, or it could be a great little side dish. You can also fool around with the flavors very easily and make it your own. Chop up a small pepper and add it to the skillet, or use any number of other flavors in the spice mixture. It's really up to you.

2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
10-12 whole ramps
1 tbsp fresh ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
1/2 tsp lemon juice
I bunch of cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges

In a small bowl, combine the ginger, cumin, coriander and garam masala and then set it aside.

Add the potatoes to a pot of salted water. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are just fork tender. You're not going to mash these potatoes, so don't boil them too far past that point.

Meanwhile,  clean and chop the ramps. This probably looks like more work than it really is. Ramps usually come looking like they were pulled out of the ground right before you showed up to buy them:

Your first instinct will be to wash that dirt off. Don't do it! At least not yet. There's a thin membrane between that dirt and the actual plant. If you wash them, the membranes get slimy and harder to remove. Instead, take the back of your knife and run it carefully down the stem. The membrane (and the attached dirt) will slide right off. When it's stripped all the way down to the roots, chop the tip off.

Once all the dirty membranes have been removed, wash the ramps. Bunch them up and start chopping your way through, just like you would with green onions. You want all the white parts as well as the greens.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large skilled or medium-sized pot. Add the chopped ramps and saute them until wilted.

Once the potatoes are done, drain them in a colander and add them to the ramps, stirring to combine. Cover and cook them for a minute or so over medium heat. Add the spices, fenugreek and lemon juice and stir it all around to coat them well.

Cook it for a few minutes until the flavors have combined. Taste for seasoning and pepper and salt (if needed). Remove from the heat and add the chopped cilantro. Serve it with the lime wedge and a little extra cilantro on top. Serve with naan or as a side dish for other things.