The first local spring veggies always feel so magical to me. I am especially fond of ramp season; I add them to nearly every meal during their brief appearance in the spring. With every bite, I feel the promise of warmer, sunnier days. I get way too excited about my garden and then realize that here in Wisconsin I really shouldn’t plant anything for at least another month…
That said, there are a number of local green things that usually arrive on our shelves during the month of April. There is no guarantee, though. I’ve optimistically shared some of my favorite early spring recipes this month using many of the local greens we might see in April, including spinach, ramps, chives, watercress, mizuna, and arugula.
Early Spring Pesto
1-2 garlic cloves
1/4 c. toasted nuts: pine nuts, cashews, or macadamias work well with this recipe
1/2 c. parmesan cheese (optional, though if you leave it out add some sea salt to taste)
1-1 1/2 c. tightly packed mizuna and/or arugula (or spinach if you’re looking for a milder pesto)
1-1 1/2 c. tightly packed ramp leaves and/or chives
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil (reduce or add more to desired consistency)
Directions: If you’re starting with raw nuts, I like to toast just what I need by heating a cast iron pan on the stove over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, I toss the nuts in and shake the pan every 30 seconds or so until they start smelling toasty and delicious and they’re starting to brown.
I also like to prep the garlic by putting in a mug with maybe a teaspoon of water and cooking it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. This mellows the flavor and tones down the spiciness.
Add the toasted nuts and garlic to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add in the greens and lemon juice and do the same. At this point, I let the food processor run and drizzle oil in while it’s going until it’s a little runnier than I want it to end up. Lastly, add the parmesan and mix until well combined.
Scoop into ajar with a lid. Keep in the fridge. Great on pasta, fish, chicken, sandwiches, and added to sauces or dressings.
Seasonal Breakfast Tacos
2 corn tortillas
4-6 ramps, greens trimmed off (and saved!)
1/4 c. grated cheese or cream cheese (optional)
1/2 avocado, sliced or mashed
Salsa or hot sauce
Directions: Wash and trim the ramp bulbs, then chop finely. Sauté in a little oil or butter over medium heat. When they start to brown a little, add in the egg and cheese. Scramble.
Meanwhile, in the toaster or on the stove, heat up the tortillas until they are hot, but still pliable.
Add the scramble to the tortillas and top with avocado, greens, and salsa. Serve immediately. Makes 2.
Greens and Grains Bowl
2 c. cooked farro
2 c. watercress (you could substitute arugula or spinach)
3 oz. chevre
1/2 c. toasted almonds, or a mix of seeds/nuts
Fine grain sea salt to taste
1 avocado, sliced
For the dressing:
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
1/4 c. of chives, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. fine grain sea salt
Directions: Prepare the dressing by whisking all ingredients together; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the farro, almonds, and salt together and toss with the dressing. Mix well. Add in the greens and toss again, more gently this time so as not to bruise the greens. Serve topped with chevre and avocado.