Saturday, June 7, 2014
Grilled Ramps with Pecorino, Lemon and Sea Salt
Spring is my absolute favorite time of year. Alex loves fall (which is comparable enough when you are looking at the temperature) but a large part of what I love about spring is the appearance of things like sugar snap peas, asparagus and rhubarb at the farmers' market. The reappearance of the sun and warm temperatures are a bonus. Ramps are one spring ingredient that has I have never really understood. The dishes we made at home with ramps were all pretty good, but they never blew my mind (the best was this White Pizza with Ramps) and I can't remember ever ordering a dish at a restaurant with ramps that really stuck out in my mind. I did have a lovely carrot pasta at Blanca a few weekends ago that had a ramp sauce and a single grilled ramp on top that was lovely, but I think it would have still been lovely without the ramps. I'm sure I have ordered other dishes with ramps because that's what you're supposed to do at a farm-to-table type restaurant in the spring, but seeing as I can't remember a single one they couldn't have been that amazing. And yet I keep trying new ramp dishes because I am stubborn like that. I see them in the farmers' market and I just have to buy them. And then I have to figure out what I want to do with them. Again.
Anyway, I saw this recipe in Hugh Acheson's cookbook, A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for your Kitchen, not too long ago and I mentally bookmarked it for my next ramp experiment. It looked different from the usual ramp recipes I come across (i.e. serving them with eggs, pasta or pickling them). Our fallback is usually pickled ramps, but I wanted to try something new. And I'm glad I did because this was probably the first ramp recipe where I started to understand why people enjoy ramps so much. In this dish they have such a lovely garlicky flavor that is nicely tempered by the salty flavor of the cheese and the brightness of the lemon juice. "Grilling" our ramps on the grill pan seems to have taken their almost oily and pungent flavor down a notch. I know some people enjoy ramps and eggs together but I have had dishes where the ramps just seemed greasy and a little too in your face funky to me (like in these Fried Eggs with Ramps and Duck Bacon) or completely disappeared into the dish (like these Oeufs en Cocotte with Ramps). We served these ramps with some seared salmon, but I could see serving them any number of other dishes.
Recipe after the jump!
Grilled Ramps with Pecorino and Lemon
Adapted from A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen
By Hugh Acheson
2 tsp kosher salt
24 wild, but clean, ramps
1 1/2 tbsp evoo
1/4 lb Pecorino-Romano, shaved with a peeler to thin strips
juice from 1/2 lemon
Blanch ramp bulbs in boiling salted water for 3 minutes, until bulbs are tender. Then cool in an ice bath.
Heat a grill pan over moderately high heat.
Remove ramps from ice bath, dry well and drizzle with 1 tbsp evoo. Toss to coat. Season with kosher salt. Grill ramps on hot grill pan until charred in places, about 2-3 minutes. Remove ramps, top with cheese and drizzle with remaining evoo (if desired) and lemon juice.