It has been a heck of a week around here. Pete has been gone for four days. (Fishing in the snow. Fun.) Here it has been sleeting and wicked cold, and I've been busy juggling the business, home-keeping, and homeschooling as a solo-gig.
So when insanity strikes I head to the woods. We spent yesterday at a local county park foraging with some other homeschooling friends. Nettles. Catnip. Ramps. The earth is kind to us. My tension melted away and I found my bliss there, mud under my nails, kids playing confidently alone in the green. We talked. We were silent. We harvested. We breathed.
I came home with two heaping cloth bags: one of ramps and one of nettles. Soon I will share more with you about nettles (in a heartfelt and difficult post I am working on regarding radiation) but for now we'll stick with ramps.
Ramps are wild onions. They grow in woodlands from North Carolina well into Ontario. Ramps are heavenly.
Last year I shared some recipes with you that I had somehow already forgotten. I am sharing them again in case you have forgotten too. If the recipes don't pique your interest, tonight we added chopped ramps to a stew (along with nettle and seaweed, bone broth, beef, cabbage, carrots, garlic, and onions). Yum. I also filled two large lasagna pans with sliced ramps and popped them in the freezer. I'll scrape them off and into jars tomorrow and we'll have ramps in our soups in January. Putting food by has officially begun!
In the spirit of self-sufficiency and as a celebrate local eats, here are two wonderfully simple recipes for you to create using ramps, purchased or foraged. Ramps are an wild onion and have a garlicky-oniony flavor. You can eat the ramp – bulb, greens, and all. It is easy to identify as it is the only lily-type plant with an onion smell when you crush the leaves.
If you don't have ramps in your region feel free to substitute a bunch of flat leaf parsley, a clove of garlic, and a small onion for the ramps. Or better yet the leaves of the invasive species Garlic Mustard. That makes a wonderful pesto and you'll be doing the forest a service when you remove it. (Be sure to take the flower heads with you or the dead plant will still set seed.)
I chose to use sunflower oil, sunflower seeds, and honey (instead of olive oil, pine nuts, and sugar) in the recipes below to make a more local pesto and dressing. Go with what you've got!
Hot Ramp Pesto
I make big batches of pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays. Then I transfer the cubes to a jar or bag and we're set for the season.
Three handfuls of ramps (maybe 30 or so ramps), sliced across the grain into thin 1/2" strips(greens, necks, and bulbs)
1/4 C sunflower or olive oil
1/4 C sunflower seeds or pine nuts
1/2 tsp Coarse Salt
Place sunflower seeds in food processor or blender and process until chopped finely. Add ramps, oil, and salt and process again until it has a smooth, pesto-like consistency. Taste. It will be HOT in comparison to basil pesto. If it is too spicy for your palate, add a big handful of raw spinach. The flavor mellow when it cooks (on pizza, in bread, etc.).
Wild Goddess Dressing
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1/3 C tahini
3 Tb soy sauce (add a tsp of salt for GAPS families)
1 Tb honey
3 Tb ramp pesto (recipe below) or minced ramps, with greens
1 pinch of salt
1 Tb lemon juice
1 Tb plus 1 tsp honey
1/4 C sunflower oil
2 Tb fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tb fresh chives, chopped
Combine all ingredients except oil, parsley and chives in blender of food processor. Process until smooth, then add oil in a thin stream. Taste and adjust flavor as needed. Add chives and parsley if desired and quickly pulse in. Serve on your favorite salad, wild or tame. Will keep well in the fridge for several days.