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Ramps & Asparagus Soup

  • May 2, 2016

 Ramps — “allium tricoccum” – a member of the onion family (sometimes called wild leeks)

 — are available for only a few weeks in Spring. If you live anywhere near woods in the Northeast U.S.,  Canada or as far down as North Carolina — you might try foraging for them, or if not, hopefully you have a farmer’s market near you that carries them. – typically at obscenely high prices.
I was lucky enough to get some for the second year in a row from my neighbor Insung, who has a friend who forages for them in New York’s Catskills Mountains.
Both the broad leaves and the bulbs can be eaten and they’ve got a distinctly pungent taste – somewhere between an onion and garlic. In the photo below, you see the leafy ramps on the left, but they’re missing the bulbous part. That’s because my friend’s friend picked them, leaving the bulbs in the ground in order to allow for more growth for next year. In many areas, ramp mania has gotten so out of control, that local woods have been decimated of the ramps there. So be thoughtful and judicious if you decide to hunt and bring some home.
For this soup, I used a few scallions and asparagus too, adding one potato to help thicken it.
Chop everything into smallish pieces, including the potato.
After I cut off the fibrous ends of the asparagus, I boiled them in some water, to enrich the soup with the vegetable stock. You can make this completely vegetarian, but I added some chicken broth.
There are plenty of other ways to enjoy ramps too, including this ramps pesto I posted a couple of years ago.
They also pair beautifully with eggs, as I found out when making a frittata with mushrooms, ricotta cheese and ramps.

And I loved them on a flatbread too, with mozzarella, ricotta cheese and baby portabello mushrooms. Have you tried ramps yet? What are some of the ways you’ve enjoyed them?

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Ramps and Asparagus Soup
2 T. olive oil
a few scallions, sliced
1 bunch of ramps, sliced
a bunch of asparagus, roughly sliced
one medium potato, cut into small chunks
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
a large handful of fresh Italian parsley
salt, pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream, optional
chives or croutons to sprinkle on top
Saute the scallions, asparagus, and ramps in the olive oil until softened. Add the potato chunks and the rest of the ingredients except the parsley and the cream. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook for 15 –20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Put everything in the blender and puree. (Be careful to cover the lid with a dishtowel or it may splatter.) Add the parsley and whir for a few more seconds. Add heavy cream if desired. Garnish with drops of cream and a sprinkle of chives on top .

Springtime Farro Salad

  • June 2, 2015

Spring vegetables  – asparagus, peas, artichokes and scallions  – are the stars in this farro salad, but it gets some added color and flavor from the red peppers and a little more texture from the hazelnuts too. It’s the kind of salad that’s really easy to make ahead of time, so it’s perfect for taking to a large gathering, as I did with this one yesterday when my Italian chit-chat group held its annual picnic.

Cook the farro in boiling water, but not too long or it will be mushy. I bought a brand that required only 15 minutes cooking time. While it was cooking, I chopped up the vegetables, some of which are parboiled (asparagus, lima beans and snap peas). Others are used fresh (scallions), and some came right from a can (artichoke hearts and red peppers).
This is the kind of salad where amounts (and even ingredients) don’t have to be exact. You don’t like artichoke hearts? Leave them out. You like broccoli instead? Add that.
I meant to toss in some chunks of parmesan cheese, but completely forgot. It didn’t need it, but if it had the cheese, you could consider this a full meal, with complete proteins.
Toss it with some extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and a generous amount of salt and pepper, serve with some salad greens and you’ve got a healthy, delicious side dish, or main course.

Springtime Farro Salad
printable recipe here

2 1/4 cups farro
7 cups water
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 1/2 cups, cut up)
1 cup snap peas, cut in pieces
1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup frozen lima beans, cooked
7 oz. jar red peppers, cut into pieces
1/2 cup scallions, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup parsley,minceed
1/2 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Kosher or sea salt
black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. honey

Cook the farro in the water for about 15 minutes or until cooked. It should have some “bite” to it.
Drain excess water and let the farro cool. Cut the asparagus and snap peas into large pieces. In a pot of boiling, salted water, drop the lima beans and cook for five minutes. After the five minutes are up, drop the asparagus and snap peas into the water. Cook for about one or two minutes, then drain all the vegetables and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain the artichoke hearts and rinse in cold water. Drain the red peppers and cut into chunks.
Mix the farro with all the vegetables, the parsley and the hazelnuts.
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing. Pour the dressing over all and season with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste.