Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gnocchi! Ramps! Spring!

It happens every year.  The ramps arrive.  I don't see them everywhere, but I see them here and there in the farmer's markets and the fancier class of supermarket.  I have tried unsuccessfully to forage for them.  Once I see them I am sure that I must have them.  I must take advantage of such a rare and precious spring commodity.

Once I buy them, I never know what to do with them.

The two most common ramp recipes I see are pickled ramps and ramp pesto.  I never want to do what's commonly done, so I try to come up with new ideas.  I have placed fish fillets on them, wrapped it all up in parchment, and served the resulting dish to Sir Pickypants who ate he fish and discarded the ramps.  I have wrapped pork medallions in them (which had pretty good results).  Once I purchased this year's bundle of ramps I asked myself, "What else can I do?  Maybe I should just give up and make pesto."

Then it came to me.  Rather than make pesto and put the ramps on the pasta, how about I put the ramps in the pasta?  What would be a better spring dish than ramp-flavored gnocchi tossed with some semi-seasonal vegetables (they tell me at the farmer's market that asparagus is coming soon, but isn't ready yet) and butter?

My gnocchi were simple.  I made ricotta rather than potato gnocchi, which I like for their light texture.  I simply mixed them with some pureed ramps.  It couldn't be easier.  I used an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend, but I'm sure it would work just as well with regular flour.

I served them not just with the asparagus and butter, but also sage and  Italian chicken sausage (that looked a bit like anemic hot dogs.

I know the photo is terrible, but it was late and I was hungry and I just wanted to eat and not fuss with photography.  You are looking at the dish just as I was about to it eat, which I think give this post an air of authenticity, no? (I'll come up with any excuse possible for bad photography!)

I liked the ramp flavor, but I didn't like the GF flour in them.  I used Bob's Red Mill all-purpose and it gave the gnocchi a grainy texture and a bit of a bean-y flavor (aa there are bean flours in the blend).  I will definitely need to make some experiments with different flours if I want to make them gluten free again.

Ramp Ricotta Gnocchi

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • About 10 ramps
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Pinch salt
Place ramps and 1 cup of the ricotta in a blender or food processor.  Blend until the ramps are smoothly incorporated into the cheese.  In a bowl mix the ramp mixture with the remaining ricotta, egg, salt, and Parmesan.  Sprinkle flour over the ricotta mixture.  Gently mix until a workable dough forms.  You may need to add or less flour.  Roll the dough into a snake on a lightly floured surface.  Cut off 1" pieces.  Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and allow to rest in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil.  Place the gnocchi in the water and cook until they float to the surface.

Remove with a stainer and serve with melted butter or your favorite sauce.


Emily said...

Never in my life have I had ramps. This needs to change!

Anonymous said...

Yes, ramps. I had to wiki that one as I have never heard of such a vege before. Turns out it is also known as spring onion, ramson, wild leek, wood leek and wild garlic. Sounds like a nice touch to a recipe.