My first year of graduate school concluded twelve days ago. I’ve read a novel, gotten a pedicure, and made my annual pilgrimage down to Baltimore for Beth and Don’s Memorial Day BBQ. This is me with the chipotle, espresso, and bourbon barbecue sauce that I used to glaze a 14.5-pound brisket.
Life is beginning to return to normal, though I am a bit mystified by what everyone does in the hours between working and sleeping. The stress of holding down a full-time job while cranking out research papers seems to have transformed me into a (reluctant) morning person. I have been trying to make the most of this found time, particularly on Saturdays when the greenmarket near my house is open.
It turns out that the early bird gets the ramps. For those who are not familiar, ramps are an early spring vegetable much beloved by market-driven chefs, locavores, and those who like to fancy themselves in the know. (For an interesting summary of the arc of the ramp, check out Hugh Merwin’s recent Grub Street post.) Ramps taste like a cross between a leek and green garlic and make for a lovely pesto. But I like them best grilled whole.
Ramp, Fig and Ricotta Tartine
- Cut a thick wedge of rustic bread (whole wheat sourdough from Bread Alone in this case) and set it to toasting.
- Bring a cast iron pan up to medium low heat with a tablespoon of olive oil.
- Rinse your ramps and trim the very tip, then set them in the cast iron pan, leaving the greens hanging over the edge. (This technique is key in my opinion, as it allows you to get a nice sear on the white portion of the ramp without overcooking the delicate greens.)
- Once you have some nice color on one side and the ramps are starting to soften, use the greens as a handle to flip them over and sear the other side. Then shift them fully into the pan and briefly cook the greens.
- Spread a thick layer of ricotta cheese onto your toast, add a thin layer of fig preserves, place your grilled ramps on top and finish with a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Enjoy.