What's for dinner?
No need to scratch your head.
Go vegetarian with this first recipe excerpted from Franny's Simple Seasonal Italian (Artisan Books, May 2013) by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens, and Melissa Clark, closest you can get to Brooklyn's eaterie without going there.
Ramps with Pine Nuts, Raisins, and Ricotta
Just a few years ago, no one knew what ramps were or how to cook them, but that’s all changed, and now they’re the hottest item at the farmers’ market. I think people get excited about ramps because they symbolize the arrival of spring. You know it’s finally here after a long, dreary winter—ramps are the first burst of green. Plus, the fact that ramps grow wild and can be foraged fascinates people. Years ago, when Andrew and I were living in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, we went for a hike just as the snow was melting, and the woods were filled with ramps. So we went home, got our gloves, and foraged some—it made us feel so resourceful.
Ramps are especially great when roasted; they caramelize beautifully, and the resulting sweetness is such a nice contrast against their pungent, garlicky flavor. That’s how you’ll find them here, on a bed of milky ricotta with raisins, pine nuts, and a touch of chili for heat.
3⁄4 cup fresh ricotta
1⁄4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons moscato vinegar (see Resources, page 357)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
20 thin ramps with leaves (about 3 ounces; see Andrew’s Note)
1⁄4 cup plus 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 teaspoons toasted pine nuts
1⁄2 teaspoon chili flakes
Four 3⁄4-inch-thick slices country-style bread
1. Bundle the ricotta tightly in a piece of cheese-cloth. Place in a sieve set in a small bowl and refrigerate overnight.
2. Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with the moscato and white wine vinegars. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
3. The next day, unwrap the ricotta and place in a small bowl (discard any water that has collected in the bottom of the bowl). Season with salt and pepper to taste, then use a whisk to whip the ricotta until light and fluffy. Set aside.
4. Trim the hairy roots from the ramps. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1⁄4 cup of the olive oil and heat until hot. Add the ramps and cook, stirring, until the bottoms are golden and the tops are wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and continue to cook for another minute or so, until soft. Add the raisins, with some vinegar still clinging to them (reserve the remaining vinegar), and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then cool to room temperature. Toss the ramp mixture with the pine nuts, the 4 teaspoons olive oil, reserved raisin vinegar, chili flakes, 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper, and salt to taste.
5. Preheat the broiler. Drizzle one side of the bread slices with olive oil. Toast, oiled side up, until golden and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes.
6. To serve, spread each toast with ricotta. Spoon the ramp mixture on top and drizzle with olive oil.
Andrew’s Note: If your ramps are skinny, you can cook them whole. If they are more mature, you will need to slice the bottoms into small disks and slice the green tops into quarters.
(* Excerpted from Franny's Simple Seasonal Italian by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens, and Melissa Clark (Artisan Books). Copyright 2013. Photographs by John von Pamer.)