Spring is in the air and my allergies are rocking. I already got myself a sinus infection and the hay fever season has just started. To make myself feel better, I decided I need some spring eating inspiration. A good place to start is always your local farmers market so I took a stroll through Union Square Green Market in search of some fresh seasonal ingredients.
There I saw bunches of ramps also known as wild leeks. They are one of the first plants to emerge in the spring so in the spirit of celebrating spring eating, I thought it's appropriate to make something with these beautiful spring vegetables. Ramps are from the onion family. Both the scallion-like white bulb and the leaves are edible. The flavor resembles garlic but with a much milder flavor. I thought I need to pair it with another spring vegetable so I found some organic fresh pea shoots. Pea shoots are the young leaves and tendrils of the pea plants. They have a light pea flavor with a hint of sweetness but pack with nutrients. They provide a good source of Vitamin K, C and A. They can be eaten raw or cooked.
Warm ramp and pea shoots salad (this recipe makes 2 serving of side dishes)
8 pieces of ramp
1/2 pound of pea shoots
Zest of one lemon
2 tbsp of lemon juice (Approx. 1/2 lemon)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
To prepare this recipe is simple, I separated the white bulbs from the ramp leaves, sliced them and put them aside. First saute the ramp bulbs with olive oil, season with salt then cook until they are tender for a few minutes. After the bulbs are caramelized, then add the pea shoots and the ramp leaves, lightly cooked until they start to wilt and season with salt and pepper. Take it off the heat then add lemon zest and juice then toss.
This combination of the mild garlic flavor of the caramelized ramp goes extremely well with the sweetness of the peas shoots, adding the lemon for a little bit of acidity makes this salad light and fresh. I also prepared a pork cutlet milanese and toss this spring salad on top, but you can top this warm salad on chicken, veal cutlet or any of your favorite protein. The possibility is endless.
Even though spring may not be my favorite season because of my allergies to tree pollen but the taste of spring through these young vegetables have sure help me appreciate this beautiful season of new beginnings.