By Mollie Sanders
Ramps are a fairly new discovery in my culinary repertoire. I’ve eaten them — mostly in pickled form — more often in the past two years than I ever had previously. It’s odd, being raised in a family which ate many foraged things growing in the woods surrounding our various “camps”, that ramps were never on the menu. They grow in locales similar to the precious fiddleheads we love but the ramps were just ignored or even stomped upon unrecognized. And now these little delicious spring wild onions will run you $17.99 per pound at your local gourmet market! My grandfather is probably roiling over in his grave due to the missed opportunity to make money on this wild vegetable that he could have harvested for free.
Besides pickling, I wasn’t really sure what to do with them. Apparently making pesto from them is also very popular. I haven’t tried that yet, as $17.99 a pound would make for some pricey pesto. I wondered how they’d be chopped very fine and mixed in with a simple ricotta gnocchi. Well let me tell you how that came out…YUM. So very good.
This recipe made enough for four hungry people and I served it with braised short ribs BUT I can pretty much guarantee you that they would be very good with fresh lobster meat or shrimp and a simple beurre blanc.
When you buy the ramps you will notice they are pretty dirty, they came out of the dirt and woods after all! I soak them in very cold water, changing the water a few times to really get the grit out. Dry them well before chopping.
Ricotta Ramp Gnocchi
Everything in its place:
16 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese, drained*2 large eggs, beaten well
1 cup finely chopped ramp greens
1 ¼ cup flour (plus more for rolling)
2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (I buy wedges and run it on my mircoplane grater)
In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, eggs, cheese and ramps. Add flour and work in gently until a soft and semi-sticky dough forms. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in the fridge to rest for 15-30 minutes. This lets the flour absorb the moisture as well as lets the gluten rest which will give you a more tender gnocchi.
Flour your work surface and starting with about ¼ of the dough roll into long strands about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Using knife or dough cutter, cut every inch or so. Very gently roll in some of the flour on your work surface and set on a floured sheet tray until you have rolled out and cut all remaining dough.
To cook: bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil and drop gnocchi in, being careful not to crowd the pot. Using a slotted spoon scoop gnocchi out when they start to float. Drain and finish cooking all the gnocchi. Serve immediately.
*To drain ricotta, line a fine mesh sieve with a coffee filter or even a paper towel and pour in the ricotta. Let sit and drain for 15-20 minutes, just until there’s no visible liquid separating from the solids.