Things are sure ramp-ing up on the farm right about now. (Get it? Because of the ramp recipes!?). Every hour I’m not at work or in my kitchen, I’m out in the sunshine. It’s absolutely blissful, filled with muddy feet, muddier hands, sun-kissed faces and so many birds chirping. I think I might be going delirious from all the vitamin D.
You can tell we have officially shifted from late winter/early spring (aptly named “greenhouse season”) to the mid-spring “planting season” because there are far less greenhouse photos on my Instagram and far more photos of our fields and happy baby plants out in the sunshine. I can tell the seasons have shifted because my house is a mess, I keep forgetting I left laundry in the washing machine, my brain is scattered, my legs are sore, my husband is beyond the point of exhaustion counting down the days until his off-farm job winds down and I’m obnoxiously full of non-stop enthusiasm. Yup, it must be late April.
This spring my Carrot only has to work four days a week at his off-farm job instead of six like last year (praise the lord) so we spend our Sundays and Mondays planting as many vegetables into the earth as we possibly can. On Tuesday, I have to go back to work while my Carrot continues doing farmer things like up-potting tomatoes and peppers in our greenhouse, rototilling everything in sight and filling bags with soil so we have weights for our row cover. Do I sound like I’m speaking a foreign language yet? Maybe you all will have to come out to the farm so I can teach you about up-potting, rototillers and row cover. It’s a wonderful world out here.
We had our first spring workday on the farm this past weekend which is probably my favorite part of our farming life. People come out to visit. I give a tour and babble about all the reasons I love farming on a corner of my parents’ land. Then my Carrot teaches them how to do something in the field (this week transplanting kale, arugula and collards), we work for a couple hours, talk about all kinds of interesting things, and then retire to the back deck where I serve up a feast of all the most seasonally appropriate, inventive foods I can dream up. Hence, ramps two ways.
I’ve never been one to get all worked up about ramps (at least not more so than any other vegetable), but I am beginning to correlate certain seasonal foods with certain emotions. (This must mean I’m a farmer).
Four years into this farming thing and suddenly ramps equate absurd excitement, not necessarily over the food itself but over the start of another season. The revival of a time when local produce is abundantly available and hours are spent transplanting in the fields with my love. So, I buy up a few bunches and eagerly whip up spring treats with their bulbs and their greens. I relish in their garlicky, pungent slightly sweet flavor. It has been a long, cold winter after all.
I hope you are all enjoying your spring as much as me. I hope you are finding time to soak up some sunshine and take trips to the farmer’s market. I hope you too are feeling renewed and inspired!
Love, your one and only,
Ramps are all the craze with foodies and chefs. They practically fly off the shelves in some parts of the country. If you live in Madison, you will always be able to find them at the Willy Street Co-op or farmer’s markets this time of year because Harmony Valley Farm has a huge ramp business. If you live in other places and can’t get your hands on them or don’t feel like seeking them out, you can certainly substitute scallions for the recipes below.
TURNIP, RAMP & WHITE BEAN DIP
Makes 3 cups
Takes 55 minutes
3 cups peeled and diced turnips (about two large or five small), greens removed
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch ramps, white and pink portions only
1-15 ounce can Great Northern Beans
1/4 cup brown butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss turnips with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Turn out onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, toss and continue roasted 15 minutes longer. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Add roasted turnips, remaining salt, ramps, beans, brown butter and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, about two minutes. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature with pita chips, pretzels, crackers or raw veggies.
SPRING SALAD WITH RAMP GREEN VINAIGRETTE
All ingredient amounts in this salad are variable. I like a ton of toppings on my salad and when I’m eating an entree-sized salad, I use a lot of vinaigrette. Feel free to adjust to your liking, but keep the vinaigrette ingredients exact for a balanced flavor.
Serves 4-8 as a side; 1-2 as a meal
Takes 20 minutes
4 ounces arugula (or a mixture of arugula, loosely chopped spinach and/or mixed greens)
1/4 cup ramp green vinaigrette, well-shaken (recipe below)
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
2 granny smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 ounces goat cheese
Combine greens and vinaigrette in a large bowl. Toss until well coated. Add pecans, cranberries and apples. Toss until combined. Top with several dollops of goat cheese. Enjoy at room temperature.
Ramp Green Vinaigrette:
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 bunch ramp greens
3 tablespoons brown butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
5 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet or other large heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add ramp greens. Turn every 30 seconds until charred on all sides. This will take 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add greens to food processor with remaining olive oil, brown butter, maple syrup and champagne vinegar. Process for 5 minutes until emulsified and creamy. Add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. This makes about a cup. Store in the fridge for up to a week. Shake well before using.