Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wild Leeks: A Springtime Treat

The newly-awakened woods, streams, and fields yield a wide range of greens that only last for a few weeks. Wild leeks, also known as Ramps, are in season from mid-March to June, and closely resemble a leaf-heavy scallion. Its strong garlicky onion taste dwarfs the members of the 'leek' family, so you can swap your leeks or scallions for wild leeks and add a bit of herby-garlicky goodness to any dish. The leaf of the ramp is similar to spinach, so you can sauté it or just eat it raw. If you prefer less prep, whole ramps are outstanding on the grill, seasoned with sea salt and pepper and served on the side with a tender steak, pork chop or grilled rack of lamb. It also makes a great pesto!

Wild Leek Pesto
Makes 2 cups

4 cups loosely packed spinach or arugua
3 cups loosely packed wild leeks and their greens
1 1/2 cups sunflower oil or olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 cup toasted nuts (walnuts, pine nuts or almonds)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
juice of 1 large or 2 small-sized lemons
1-2 tsp Maldon sea salt, to taste

Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Taste for seasonings, and adjust as necessary.

Wild Leek Twice Baked Potatoes
Serves 4

1/4 lb fresh wild leeks, rinsed
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp heavy cream
2 small baking potatoes, baked
salt & pepper to taste

chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut each russet in half and scoop out the center of both halves. Make sure each half still has about ¼” of potato left in them. Serve the other four as potato skins or discard them. Run the scooped out potato chunks through a potato ricer or food mill. Finely chop the ramps and sauté them in the butter. Mix the ramps, the butter they were cooked in, the cream, and salt & pepper to taste into the potato filling. Stuff the three reserved halves with the filling. Put the potatoes in a baking dish or on a baking sheet and bake until heated through and golden brown. Garnish with chives and serve.