I stopped by the Penn Quarter farmers market one recent afternoon hoping they would have ramps. I was in luck! I picked up two bunches of the seasonal wild leeks with their red and white bulbs and wide leafy greens. They're like scallions but with style.
|Ramps resemble scallions with reddish bulbs and leafier greens.
The first time I ever had ramps was 3 years ago during my first visit to Birch & Barley. As part of the tasting menu, we had gnocchi with rabbit sausage, ramps, fennel pollen and ricotta salata cheese. I loved the dish and always planned at some point to try to re-create it. As soon as I saw those ramps at the market, I decided that night would be the night.
I found this recipe on Tasting Table that was quite similar to what I'd had at Birch & Barley, apart from the speck. So with a few adjustments to that recipe, I had just what I was looking for. I made one additional modification: during a recent visit to Graffiato, we had their ramp pizza, which featured a ramp pesto as well as a generous sprinkle of raw ramp greens, which provided a nice contrast of flavors.
Gnocchi with Ramps and Sausage
Inspired by Birch & Barley and adapted from a recipe from Tasting Table
1 lb. gnocchi (potato or sweet potato, make your own with this or this recipe, or buy at the store, but be sure you get good quality)
1/2 lb. mild Italian chicken sausage
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 lb. ramps (two bunches, about 20-25 ramps)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tbsp. fellen pollen
1-2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup shredded ricotta salata cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add gnocchi and cook until they float to the surface, about 4-6 minutes. Drain and set aside (recommend making the gnocchi at the same time as the sauce, as you don't want it sitting around).
2. Remove chicken sausage from casings and brown in a large sauté pan over medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Separate ramp bulbs from the greens. Finely chop the bulbs and cut the greens into 1-inch pieces. Add 2 tbsp. butter to pan. When melted, add the chopped ramp bulbs and sliced garlic. Cook about 2 minutes (the ramps and garlic should not brown, turn the heat down a bit if necessary). Add chicken broth and simmer over medium heat for 7 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add fennel pollen, half of the ramp greens, the cooked sausage, and olive oil. Stir to combine, add cooked gnocchi and toss to coat. Serve gnocchi in shallow bowls with a sprinkle of ramp greens and some shredded ricotta salata.