Thursday, May 2, 2013

ramp pesto and spring rolls with jasmine rice, red lentils, wakame and mushrooms

Yes, ramps are trendy. But I don't care. They're like daffodils and asparagus, the first signs of spring. And I love them. My fellow food blogger, Leah Lizarondo has already said what needs to be said about this over-rated and rightfully so, amazing wild leek. Her recipe has the ramps front and center,  three different ways. One way is in a macadamia nut pesto, another is sauteed with asparagus and mushrooms and the third is wrapped around a lovely gluten-free savory crepe that has the beautiful green stalks in it! I chose to adapt her ramp pesto using pumpkin seeds and sauteed the white stalks of the ramp with some crimini mushrooms from Wild Purveyors located in trendy (yes, again with the trendy. I can't help it, sometimes trends exist for a reason!) Lawrenceville. I then used the pesto as a dipping sauce for spring rolls.

Ok, on with the recipe. It's got a lot of parts to it. But don't be discouraged. They're all super easy and fun to assemble. Start by cooking some rice with red lentils. I added lentils for some protein heft and it mixes well with the creamy jasmine rice. It really just involves adding said ingredients to a pot and adding water about an inch above the rice/lentils. While those are simmering, blend up the green leaves of the ramps with the pumpkin seeds, olive oil, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. After that's done, saute the white and purplish stalks of the ramps with the sliced mushrooms, a dash of salt and cook until the mushrooms start to brown and bits of ramps start to stick to the pan. Deglaze (a fancy way of saying that it's time to add some sort of liquid to the pan and lift up those flavorful bits of deliciousness) using brown rice vingear or a splash of lemon juice or red wine vinegar or any vinegar or wine or beer or water....reallly anything you want. The mushrooms are like sponges and will soak up any flavor you throw at it.

Here are the details, oh I mean, a sort of recipe that's endlessly adaptable:

pumpkin seed ramp pesto:
1/2 pound ramps
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
squeeze of lemon juice
sea salt
black pepper
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
olive oil

rice/lentil mix
1 cup jasmine rice
1/4 cup lentils
about 2 cups water

veg stir fry mix
1/2 pound of crimini mushrooms, stems removed
leftover white/purplish stalks of the ramps
olive oil
sea salt

Oh, and lest I forget about the wakame! The brilliant sea vegetable that really doesn't get enough cred. Sea veggies really are the best! It's an easy way to add minerals and vital nutrients to your diet. And it usually consists of just re-hydrating some dry seaweed. In this case, I used a 1/4 cup of wakame, put it in a bowl and covered it with water. It plumps up in about five minutes and that's it! Add straight to your dish!

The hardest part of this recipe is the spring rolls. It seems like it'd be confusing, but it's really foul-proof. Really, you just need to buy a package of spring roll wrappers and re-hydrate them. (Sound familiar?!)

Get a shallow dish of warm water. Place spring roll in water until soft and pliable, about 15-20 seconds. Remove wrapper and lay on a wet towel and blot until it is slightly sticky. Place the rice/lentil mixture first, followed by the mushroom/ramps and finish with a small handful of wakame in the middle of the wrapper. Fold the bottom up over the filling, fold in the sides and then roll the wrapper up to form a neat roll shape. Serve immediately with the ramp pesto or cover with a damp tea towel to keep moist.

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