Gnocchi doesn’t have to be laden with sage and brown butter to have a good time, and this recipe, with its trifecta of springy ingredients, is here to prove it. If you can’t find ramps at the market just yet, scallions work just fine. But freshly grated nutmeg makes all the difference here to complement the peas, mushrooms and fragrant tarragon. So bust out your Microplane and get to work.
Gnocchi with Peas, Ramps & Mushrooms
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
1 pound russet potatoes
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
Kosher salt, to taste
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter, divided
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, diced
¼ cup fresh peas
4 stalks wild onions, such as ramps, sliced diagonally
½ teaspoon chile flakes
½ cup reserved pasta water
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tarragon sprig, picked
Zest of 1 lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Bake the potatoes for 1 hour, or until very tender. As soon as the potatoes come out of the oven, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the potato, discarding the skin or saving it for another use. Press the potatoes through a ricer or food mill, and spread out on a sheet tray while still hot. Let the riced potato cool to room temperature.
2. Once the potato mix is cool, transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Mix in the egg yolk, grated nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Gently mix in the flour until the dough comes together, being careful not to overmix. Test a piece in boiling water; boil for roughly 2 minutes. It should float for roughly 2 minutes. Then check the gnocchi for taste and structure; if the gnocchi falls apart during the boiling, it needs more flour.
3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll into ½-inch-diameter logs. Cut into pieces roughly 1 inch long. Place the gnocchi pieces on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and flour. Store in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
4. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter is bubbling, add the mushrooms, peas, spring onions and chile flakes. Sauté lightly for roughly 2 to 3 minutes until tender. Add the pasta water to the pan and turn off.
5. In a large pot of boiling water, add the gnocchi; once they float, continue to cook 2 more minutes. Once they are cooked, remove and add to the pan of vegetables. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and Parmesan cheese. Cook until glazed. Plate and top with tarragon and lemon zest, then serve.
And what are ramps, if you don’t know by now and some tips on how to use them.
Every April the culinary world gets ready for the Great Ramp Race. (Okay, it’s not actually a race at all, but rather a sort of cultural phenomenon.) Chefs, restaurants, home cooks, food writers, and greenmarket enthusiasts all go bonkers for this garlicky spring vegetable.
Ramps are versatile, delicious, and one of the first green things to appear after a cruel winter. But whether you faithfully worship at the altar of alliums or you’re a first-time ramp buyer, it’s worth reading through this list of common mistakes before diving into this year’s batch. Here’s how to make the best out of springtime’s most pungent offering.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask What the Heck Ramps Are
If you’re not actually sure what ramps actually are, it can feel intimidating to ask, especially with chatter reaching a fever pitch in your natural food co-op. This is a safe zone, so ask away: Ramps are wild leeks, foraged from shaded, woody areas. They’re one of the first signs of spring and one of the first edible green things to hit markets. Their flavor is a combination of garlicky, oniony, and pungent. You can use them anywhere you would use scallions or spring onions.
2. Don’t Expect a Leisurely Stroll Through the Market
If you’ve ever powered through a Black Friday shopping excursion at the mall, you have a frame of reference for how seriously local eating enthusiasts take ramp season (we are only slightly exaggerating here). Don’t roll up casually to the market at 11 and expect to find an abundance of ramps—they’ll likely be picked over or totally gone. “They go fast,” says Jessie Damuck, Bon Appétitrecipe developer. “Get there by 8 if you want your pick.”
3. You’re Gonna Need More Than a $20 Bill
When we’re talking ramps, we’re talking steep prices. It’s in part because these spring alliums are foraged, not cultivated. It’s more labor-intensive to hunt through the woods for a bunch than to simply pull them up from a tidy garden row, and that’s reflected in the cost. But demand is creating an undeniable hike. They can be about $20/pound this year. If you’ve got a shady and cool hillside on your property, we suggest pulling on a pair of muck boots and doing some digging (don’t take all of the ramps from a patch, or they won’t repopulate next year).
4. Make a Game Plan Before Buying
Ramp season is a very exciting time, and we understand that. But don’t just buy up a vendor’s stand because they’re there. More than likely, a few days’ worth of garlic breath will leave you with ramp fatigue and fighting to find ways to use them. Instead, do a little research beforehand. There are countless of ways to use ramps, beyond simply slicing and sautéing as you would any other allium (they are just leeks, after all). Roast or grill them whole—the high temperature will render the bulbs tender while making for some seriously crispy leaves. And yes, you can, and should, eat the entire thing. Once you’ve tired of eating them as a side dish, make a pesto with walnuts, Pecorino cheese, and whole ramps (blanch the greens first). For your next batch, dunk them in a buttermilk batter and fry them whole. Bet your neighborhood tapas bar charging $75 for a ramp tasting menu hasn’t thought of that! Still, have more ramps? Pickle them with a mix of red chiles, bay leaves, fennel seeds, black pepper and salt, vinegar, and sugar. They’ll keep for two weeks unless you preserve them by canning; in that case, you can eat ramps all year long.
5. Don’t Forget to Clean Them…No, Seriously
“If you thought leeks were dirty, wait till you get your hands on ramps,” says Rick Martinez, recipe developer. Ramps have two things working against them in the dirt department: They have plenty of crevices for mud to hide in (check where the leaves meet the stem), and, as mentioned before, they’re pulled up from the forest in the muddiest part of spring. Some vendors will clean their ramps before bringing them to the market, but don’t assume that they’ve completed the job. Rinse them thoroughly before using, and gently pat dry.
6. Know How to Store Them
Once you’ve brought home your haul, don’t just chuck them on the countertop until dinnertime. Roll them in a damp paper towel, place in an unsealed plastic bag, and keep them in the fridge. Make sure the delicate leaves are covered by the towel and don’t bend or crush the plant. Don’t be surprised when your entire refrigerator smells like garlic. It’s all part of the experience.
7. Never Be Afraid to Let Your Love of Ramps Be Known
We should be honest: Not everyone will be as enamored with spring’s stinkiest offerings as you are. “Don’t expect your non-foodie friends to get stoked about an all-ramp dinner,” says Damuck who, for the record, created an all-ramp menu while in culinary school. Dawn Perry, a digital food editor, agrees: “My parents are like, ‘Aren’t they really just like scallions?'” (The author of this article’s parents have ramps growing behind their house and are truly perplexed and amused by the price they fetch.)