~ Crostini with Ramps, Pea Shoots, Ricotta, Mint and Lemon ~
Spring is the time of new beginnings when fresh shoots and early leaves offer a taste of the season to come. Like a teen, these less mature greens are a contrast of nice and naughty – tender yet sharp in flavors that will develop and smooth with maturity. In this simple recipe, chopped ramps add bite and attitude to fluffy ricotta which is smeared over crostini and topped with a jumble of sweet, tender pea shoots. Little else is needed except a pinch of fresh mint and a squeeze of lemon to shout spring and make these crostini pop.
Note: This recipe is a finalist this week in Food52’s recipe contest for “your best allum.” Head over to Food52 and check out the contest and all of the other delicious goodies on their site, which just received an award from the James Beard Foundation for Publication of the Year!
Crostini with Ramps and Shoots
Ramps are wild leeks and resemble a scallion. Their long, broad green leaves and burgundy tinged bulb are edible. Green garlic is young garlic and also resembles a scallion. Green garlic may be substituted for the ramps.
8 one-inch thick baguette slices, sliced on the diagonal
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped ramps or green garlic, bulbs and stems only
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Generous handful pea shoots
Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly brush bagette slices with olive oil. Arrange on baking sheet. Bake in oven until golden brown on both sides, turning once, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove.
Mix ricotta, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper in a bowl until fluffy. Stir in ramps, mint and lemon zest. Spread ricotta on baguette slices.
Top crostini with a large pinch of pea shoots. Drizzle a little olive oil over crostini, followed by a squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle with a few grains of sea salt and black pepper.
More ramps? Yes, please. Ramp season is fleeting, so now is the time to take advantage of these baby leeks by the bunch. Tiny and fragile they may be, but do not underestimate these delicate onions – they pack a punch in the flavor department. Their unique flavor is a cross between a green onion and garlic. Eaten raw, ramps are sharp and pungent, making a distinct impression in salads, pestos, gremolatas or simply as a garnish. Cooking ramps will result in a kinder gentler version of themselves, coaxing out their natural sweetness and softening their shape into slippery ribbons with the added character of a little char.
Crostini with sautéed ramps is one of my favorite ways to showcase seasonal food: minimally, with few adorning ingredients thus allowing the flavors of the key ingredient to shine through. In this case, baguette slices are browned in olive oil in a skillet. Ramps are added to the same skillet and sautéed until tender and golden brown, then heaped over mild and creamy buffalo mozzarella. A chiffonade of ramp leaves serves as an efficient garnish along with a simple pinch of sea salt. What you see is what you get: One skillet and 3 ingredients create a sweet and savory, creamy and crunchy mouthful that will send you to the market for more ramps. Hurry, though, the season is short.
Crostini with Sautéed Ramps
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 – 1/2″ thick slices baguette
8 ramps, ends trimmed, leaves trimmed and reserved
1 ball buffalo mozzarella (approx. 8 ounces) room temperature, cut in half, each half cut in 4 slices
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Arrange baguette slices in one layer. Cook until golden brown on both sides; remove. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet. Add ramps; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté until golden brown and soft. Remove from heat. Slice ramps in half lengthwise.
Take 4 reserved ramp leaves and stack on top of one another. Roll up lengthwise. Cut horizontally in thin strips. Arrange crostini on a serving plate. Place a mozzarella slice on crostini. Top with ramps. Garnish with ramp leaf chiffonade. Sprinkle with a little sea salt.