Five Ingredients for your Spring Menu
Wild Ramps, also known as wild leeks or ramsons, have white or red stems with broad green leaves that are tender and edible. They can be foraged in wooded areas under tree canopies and often near wetlands. Ramps have a pungent onion, leek, and garlic flavor, and make a great flavor base for soups and stews. Sauté and add to an omelet or quiche, stir-fry with other vegetables including morels, carrots, and asparagus.
Asparagus comes in green, white, and purple varieties, and the size and thickness vary based on variety. Thick ones are often peeled before using, but don’t discard the peels because they can be fried crisp as a garnish. Asparagus is great grilled, stir-fried with other vegetables including ramps, and morels, in omelets, or prepared as a soup. They can be sliced thin and added raw to salads. Pre-cook by blanching for 30-60 seconds in boiling salted water and shock in an ice bath. This will set the color and the vegetables will still be crisp. Toss with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature.
Morels are wild mushrooms that are found in the spring under certain types of trees including sycamore, hickory, ash, elm, and some fruit trees. They like humid moist areas around 50°F/10°C and can range in size from about 1-6 inches/2.5-15 cm. Trim the stems and slice the morels in half lengthwise. Remove any dirt or sand, rinse with water if needed, and dry on a towel. Sauté with shallots and garlic in butter or olive oil, add to an omelet, or in a sauce to accompany steak.
Rhubarb is a perennial plant with poisonous leaves and edible stalks of green to bright red. The stalks are sour and fibrous when raw and usually stewed with sugar to soften and sweeten them. Rhubarb can be used in pastries and tarts, cakes and muffins, and jams and compotes They are sometimes combined with other fruits including strawberry, orange or apple, and they pair well with vanilla, ginger, and star anise.
Spring Peas have a very short window because they must be harvested and eaten before their sugars turn to starch. English peas or shelling peas are a variety we often eat frozen but are a wonderful culinary treat if you can find them. Of course, you can also substitute snow peas or snap peas if you can’t find the shelling variety. Fresh peas make a refreshing soup or add to risotto and other rice dishes, or stir fry with other spring vegetables including mushrooms, ramps, and asparagus.