Ramp up your seasonal cooking: Ramp & Spicy Sausage Risotto

Ramps are not something that you’ll find in every supermarket.  They have a very short growing season and you’ll most likely find them at your local farmers market or at a specialty grocer.  I picked up some organic Midwestern grown ramps at the local Whole Foods, which is the only place I could find them a couple of weeks ago. Two bunches for $5, which I didn’t think was too bad a price.  Ramps are like little onions with a very garlicky taste.  They have a very unique, earthy smell to them.  I think they’re also known as a wild leek, hence the onion and garlic taste.  The two dishes I have made incorporated both the white and reddish parts as well as the leaves.  It’s always nice to be able to use the whole vegetable in a recipe.

My first dish with ramps was an Italian Sausage and Ramp Risotto.  The spicy Italian sausage paired really well with the ramps, and the creamy risotto balanced it all out.  I also made a Ramp Pesto with some of my leftover ramps, which paired well with pasta and sauteed mushrooms.  I’d like to add it to some scrambled eggs and maybe create some type of eggs benedict with the ramp pesto as a topping.  The possibilities with pesto are endless!

Ramp and Sausage Risotto, adapted from Epicurious.com

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 pound hot Italian sausages, casings removed
12 ramps, trimmed; bulbs and slender stems sliced, green tops thinly sliced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for passing

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add sausage. Cook until no longer pink, breaking up with spoon, about 5 minutes. Add sliced ramp bulbs and stems. Saute until almost tender, about 2 minutes. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add white wine. Simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3 cups chicken broth, 1 cup at a time, simmering until almost absorbed before next addition and stirring often. Continue cooking until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy, adding more broth if dry and stirring often, about 18 minutes. Mix in green tops and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper.

ramp & sausage risotto


Ramp Pesto, adapted from yumsugar.com, makes about 1 cup

2 bunches ramps, washed, ends trimmed
1/2 c. Italian parsley
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts (or your choice of nut)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
squeeze of fresh lemon
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Puree ramps, parsley, nuts, cheese, and lemon in the bowl of a food processor.  With the processor running, slowly pour in enough oil to create a loose paste.  Taste the pesto and add salt & pepper as needed, another squirt of lemon if you like, perhaps a bit more oil.  Store covered, chilled, for up to one week.

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