Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Puréed Ramps

The season for ramps is so short and their flavor is so unique that I always want to show off that unique flavor when eating them. I believe that the flavor of the bulbs of ramps is best enjoyed pickled. Cooking the bulbs deadens their flavor and their texture becomes soft and mealy. A crunchy, seasoned ramp bulb is a real treat. As for the rest of the plant, this purée is the best way I have found to showcase this wild allium. The parts used are the middle and upper stem, which is trimmed off when pickling the bulb, and the entire leaf.
240g leaves
50g stems
50g  butter
40g water
2g salt
4g lemon juice
Set up a cooling station for the finished purée (a bowl filled with ice water, with a metal bowl floating on the water works well). Place the butter, salt, and stems into a pot and make them sweat for 10 minutes, or until very soft, over medium heat. Turn up the heat to high and add the leaves. Cook until the pan has lost almost all of the free water. Add the water to stop the pan from browning and then cook on high until about half of the water is gone. The greens need to be cooked, but should not be in the pot for more than 2 minutes. Blend everything in the pot(but not in the pot) on high until very smooth, being sure to pour the purée into the chilling station immediately. Stir to speed the cooling process. Add the lemon and additional salt, if needed, just before serving.

This method can be applied to green purées in general. However, some exceptions are stinging nettles or other leafy greens that need to be blanched in large amounts of water to dilute toxins. With these exceptions aside, I blend the greens I am going to purée with the liquid they were cooked in so that I do not lose any flavor down the drain.
The keys to keeping them green are destroying any enzymes that may cause browning when the item is blended with heat, not overcooking the item, and chilling quickly after blending.

Plate it up!
Homemade ricotta gnudi with fresh chickpeas, sunflower sprouts, puréed ramp leaves and black olive oil

I use the stems for added texture in the finished purée. They must be cooked well so that the blender can render them smooth, as straining this purée would not produce the thick creamy texture that I want. As for the dish, depending on your definition of ricotta, these might not be made of ricotta, but as they say, the jury is still out on that one.



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