AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Where the Wild Things Are DATE: 5/06/2009 09:14:00 AM ----- BODY:
Nowadays, it seems you can get anything, any time of year. Asparagus in January? No problem… probably flown in from Chile. Apples in August? New Zealand. Even "wild" mushrooms aren’t wild. They’re cultivated, and perhaps generously called exotic.

I love spring for so many reasons, but especially for the seasonal spring foods that are truly seasonal. Ramps (wild leeks), for example, are only available in the May.

Ramps taste like a cross between garlic and scallions, with a white bulb and elongated, broad leaves. Like scallions, both the leaves and bulb are edible. I slice the bulbs thinly and sauté them before adding the leaves. I mix them with spring greens for dumplings or with a mix of peas and asparagus and morels for the quintessential spring vegetable mix.

Pickling ramps helps preserve their spring flavor for a few months longer.
Shad Roe is an east coast spring delicacy, also only available in the spring, when the shad leaves the ocean to mate in the fresh waters of the Delaware river. The roe is harvested in “sacs” (or ovaries if you want to be graphic about it). The thin membrane holds together millions of little roe, the size of typical caviar.

But unlike caviar or taramasalta, the roe is fresh, not salted or preserved. The flavor is sweet and earthy (like fresh-water fish) with a mild saltwater taste.

I pan-fried shad roe with the classic garnishes of capers and bacon, and the less classic pickled ramps. I made a sauce with balsamic vinegar, tomatoes (canned from last summer) and butter.
The greens in the background is from the first harvest of my own mesclun. No dressing, but enough other flavors on the plate that it really didn't need anything.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Rob Sama DATE:5/06/2009 03:37:00 PM I made shad row last week. It's like sweetbreads from the sea... ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Heather DATE:5/06/2009 08:12:00 PM i just pre-wrote a post about ramps too!! they're so amazingly delicious!!!! mmmm. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Reeni♥ DATE:5/06/2009 08:22:00 PM I've never had a ramp. But I love garlic and scallions. I will have to look for them, I would love to try them. Your dish looks delicious! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Elra DATE:5/07/2009 01:14:00 PM I saw ramps yesterday at my local grocery store. I didn't buy, but now I am tempting. I actually want to grow my own if possible. I guess it's too late now.

That pickle ramps, sounds so tempting...
Cheers,
elra ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Emily DATE:5/07/2009 05:17:00 PM I've never had ramps, but I'm excited to try them! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:5/08/2009 07:42:00 AM Rob -- and I love sweetbreads too! Great analogy.

Heather -- Can't wait to see what you did with the ramps. I just saw a recipe for ramp pesto... yum!

Reeni -- I think you would love them!

Elra -- That would be great if you could grow them... I've never heard of anyone doing that.

Emily -- you should! It's definitely a spring treat. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger melissa DATE:5/08/2009 07:59:00 PM Finally tried ramps last weekend. Loved them! Don't know if I want to post the dish though, I actually didn't photograph it well. But it was a simple pasta with the ramps and olive oil and a bit of parm reg. I was amazed at the taste. Hard to describe and very strong (in a way I liked, obviously). ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:5/09/2009 07:47:00 AM Melissa -- I"m glad you tried them and liked them! I just bought more yesterday. And as you can see, bad photography never stops me from posting! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Jude DATE:5/10/2009 07:48:00 PM I love ramps. Gonna have to try that pickling recipe if I can still find them here. ----- --------