Leeks (or Ramps, Wild Leek)

Leeks (or Ramps, Wild Leek)

I’m new to leeks.  It’s not that I (nor anyone in our family) don’t like them.  It’s just that they have never been a part of our diets.  We were more “corn bread and beans” kind of people.  So, once I finally decided to cook with them, I was in heaven!  I wish we had ramps (wild leeks) in my area but will substitute cultivated leeks instead of introducing a wild plant that would quickly turn into a noxious weed here in Central California!

Ramps, also known as wild leek (Allium tricoccum), grow in rich, moist woodlands and can be often found in heavily maple wooded areas. They are colony herbs so when you see one you will find many. The leaves grow directly from the bulb and number from 2-3 leaves per plant. The leaves are fleshy, smooth, onion scented and appear in early spring though they shrivel by flowering season in midsummer. Check with your local endangered plant center before harvesting.

Harvest the young tops before they unfurl into broad, oval shaped leaves roughly 4-10 inches long and harvest the bulbs from early spring through Autumn. The bulbs can be pickled but also work well sliced and added to your favorite recipes that call for onions. I am addicted to both the leaves and greens and work them into a wide variety of recipes.

Ramp leaves can also easily be dried using the same method you would use for drying chives. Simply chop the ramp leaves into quarter inch pieces and dry using your favorite method. While chives lose a larger percentage of their flavor when dried, ramps retain a lot of their odorous stamina and make a good addition to soups and rice dishes. and add finely chopped leaves to salads or mix with other pot herbs, soups and stews. More mature leaves can be diced and dried to be used in soups and other recipes. The bulbs can be harvested from early spring through autumn and can be pickled, added to salads, cooked and served alone or in soups, stews and other dishes.

Caution: Leeks may cause gastric distress so eat sparingly. Any wild allium species that is edible will give off an onion order. Poisonous species have no odor to speak of.

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Parsnip and Leek Soup

Source: Sam Hayward for Saveur Magazine, March 2001 Serves Six

  • 1 tbsp. grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 2 med. yellow or white onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 lbs. small to medium parsnips, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1/4″-thick rounds
  • 1 med. leek, white part only, trimmed, cleaned and cut into 1/4″-thick rounds
  • 1 med. bulb celery root, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 med. macintosh or cortland apple, peeled, quartered, and cored
  • 1 bouquet garni (6 sprigs thyme and 4 bay leaves, tied with kitchen twine)
  • 6-7 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup cleaned, stemmed tender sorrel or spinach leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over med.-low heat. Add sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until onions are very soft but not
browned, 20-30 min. Increase heat to med. and continue cooking, stirring often, until onions and their juices thicken and become deep golden and marmalade-like in
consistency.

2. Add parsnips, leeks, celery root, apples, and bouquet garni to pot with onions, stirring to combine, then add 6 cups of the stock and the heavy cream and bring to a
boil over med.-high heat. Reduce heat to med.-low, cover, and simmer until vegetables are very soft when pierced with the tip of a knife, 20-30 min.

3. Remove and discard bouquet garni, then, working in batches, transfer soup to the bowl of a food processor or the jar of a blender and pulse to a coarse puree. Return soup to
pot over med.-low heat, add sorrel or spinach, and stir until leaves wilt, 1-2 min. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Thin soup with remaining stock, if you like.

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Arrowhead-Leek Soup

  • 1 cup Chopped wild or domestic leeks
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 4 cup cubed and peeled arrowroot tubers
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cup Water
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp Salt or to taste
  • 2 cup milk

In a soup kettle boil water and arrowhead tubers for 20 minutes. Remove tubers, peel and cube. In clean kettle add 6 cups water, arrowhead tubers, leeks, celery, onion, garlic
and spices. Bring to a boil and cook until veggies are tender. Drain off excess water until there is maybe a cup or two of liquid below the level of your veggies in the pot.
Add milk and butter and celery salt to taste. Serve hot or cold and when reheating be careful to not scorch.

Melana Hiatt

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Fried Soft-shell Crab, Asparagus, and Sorrel with Grilled Ramp Dressing

This is from an email newsletter that I get from an online store called Earthly Delights. I’m just passing these neat recipes onto the group. If you pass them on,
please include where they came from. Thanks, Kiri Sue

Soft-shell crabs are a rare treat, when you can find them. Combined with ramps and fresh asparagus, they are delicious beyond description. This recipe is adapted from one by the King of Creole Cooking, Emeril Lagasse. Two things to remember about this recipe: 1.) it includes a raw egg warning,* so use only refrigerated, clean, sound-shelled, fresh,
grade AA or A eggs. Avoid mixing yolks and whites with the shell; and 2.) the recipe calls for Emeril’s Creole “essence” also called “Bayou Blast.” Recipe follows.

  • 1 bunch wild ramps, washed and trimmed
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg*
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 juiced lemon
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large, fresh, soft-shell crabs, cleaned
  • 1 cup flour
  • Essence seasoning
  • 1/2 pound fresh wild sorrel, cleaned
  • 1/2 pound watercress, cleaned
  • 12 spears fresh asparagus, cooked until tender and chilled
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Preheat your grill and season the ramps with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the ramps on the grill and cook for one or two minutes per side, or until the ramps are wilted.
Remove the ramps and allow them to cool completely. Using a food processor with a metal blade, combine the egg, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, hot sauce, and grilled ramps.
Puree until the mixture is smooth, then season with salt and pepper. While the machine is running, add the oil very slowly in a continuous stream. Continue processing until
the mixture is thick and creamy. Remove and chill thoroughly.

Preheat the oil in the fryer to 360 degrees, then season the softshells and the flour with Emeril’s “Essence.” Dredge the softshells in the flour, coating them completely.
Now, holding each crab carefully at the top, drag the legs through the hot oil for five seconds to permit the individual legs to fry separately. Carefully flip the crabs top
side down into the hot oil. Fry until they are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per crab. Drain the crabs on paper towels and season with the “Essence.” In a mixing bowl, mix the
sorrel and the watercress. Season with salt and pepper, then season the asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil, and some salt and pepper. To serve the dish, spoon some of the
dressing in the center of each of the four serving plates. Form 3 spears of asparagus into a triangle over each pool of dressing. Mound the greens in the center of each
triangle, then place each crab on top of the greens.

Emeril’s “Essence”

This recipe is from New New Orleans Cooking by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch,
published by William and Morrow, 1993.

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container. Makes about 2/3 cup.

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Ramp and Potato Soup

This is from an email newsletter that I get from an online store called Earthly Delights. I’m just passing these neat recipes onto the group. If you pass them on,
please include where they came from. Thanks, Kiri Sue

Ramp and Potato Soup

This recipe is as easy as it is delicious. You can dress it up for lunch by serving it with tossed greens, crackers, and a cheese board. Add some fresh fruit and good crusty
bread, and you have a light dinner. Change the chicken stock to vegetable stock and you have a gourmet vegetarian meal.

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 pound fresh ramps, cleaned, trimmed and cut into two-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 pounds new potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Add the wild ramps and saute until they’re wilted and soft, adding salt and pepper to taste. This should take
about six minutes. Add the bay leaf and the chopped garlic, stirring for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the potatoes and simmer the soup, uncovered, for
about one hour. The mixture should be thick and the potatoes should be very soft. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and slowly stir in the cream. Re-heat until piping
hot and serve. Makes about ten servings.

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