I don’t consider myself to be a culinary genius.
This may come as a surprise to many of you, considering my normally over inflated ego.
While I love to cook and I certainly enjoy the eating part, I don’t think of myself as a fancy pants chef. Sometimes I don’t even wear pants, and I’ve been known to hull strawberries completely topless. While I’m not ready to join a nudist colony just yet, a little topless strawberry action might be in my near future. Don’t worry; I promise to draw the shades.
Culinary geniuses tend to chart their meals, plot their delicious and drool worthy ideas, all while honing their talents. At least, I’m guessing this is what they do. In truth, I have no idea. What I do know is I don’t start my meals with any kind of agenda. Perhaps, once upon a time, in a pre-CSA, farmers marketing, and blogging era, I used to plan my meals, a laughable concept in hindsight. Not anymore, which is the real reason I’m not a famous five star Michelin chef, ignoring the obvious need to have a restaurant bit. I scoff at minor, yet necessary, details.
Now, I just open my fridge, do a little quick surveillance, ninja style, and share a few words with the random veggies and mixed matched leftovers staring back at me. Sometimes there’s a sniff test involved, other times it’s just me pulling erratic ingredients out of the fridge and deciding what to make right there on the spot. Oddly enough, these are usually my best meals and sometimes my most creative. It’s how my Grilled Cheese with Blueberry Coconut Almond Sauce, Brie and Toasted Walnuts came about, and that sandwich was epic.
It’s also how this wonderful dish was born. Weighing in at 6 pounds 8 ounces, it is bursting with garlicky goodness, without being overwhelming. The pine nuts add a buttery crunch, while the freshly shredded Parmesan lends a salty air (anyone else feel like we’re at sea?), which is why I’m sharing this gem before all the other recipes on my “Need To Share on the Blog” list. Yeah, I’m pretty sure my Greek Quiche and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola are throwing fits in the background right now for getting bumped, yet again.
Aside from it being absolutely incredible, I need to share this recipe stat because Ramps have a short season, and it’s happening as we speak, or as I type. You know what I’m trying to say, mainly because you understand my slightly nutty and neurotic nature, perhaps a bit too much. Don’t worry; I won’t tell.
Something else you shouldn’t worry about is making risotto. I’m not going to lie, I was slightly intimidated at the idea, since risotto seems like a fancy pants dish, and we have already established I’m not a fancy pants chef. I did a tiny bit of research (hello Google), decided my fears were unfounded and forged ahead, and I am so happy I did. You’re going to be happy I did too. I promise.
Before I pass along the recipe, I’d like to share some fun facts:
- Ramps, joking referred to as the “West Virginia breath mint,” have also been called wild onions, wild leeks, and wild garlic. Either way, I call them delicious.
- Gordon Ramsey will not suddenly appear over your shoulder when making risotto, although he may be in your head.
- This site and this site were extremely helpful in understanding how to make risotto, which is much less daunting. In fact, I’m probably going to risotto everything now.
- Nothing bad comes from having toasted nuts on hand.
- 4 cups Vegetable Stock (or Chicken Stock)
- 3 Tbsps. Butter, divided
- 1/2 Bunch of Ramps, approximately 1/4 cup of stems, diced and 1 cup of leaves, ribboned.
- 1 cup Arborio Rice
- 1/4 cup White Wine
- 1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted*
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- In a medium saucepan, heat your veggie stock until it begins to steam and then reduce heat to simmer.
- In a large saute pan over medium heat, add 2 Tbsps. of butter. Cook until butter has mostly melted. Add diced Ramp stems, approximately a 1/4 of a cup. Cook for a few minutes while the ramps begin to break down. Add 1 cup of dry Arborio rice, stirring to coat in butter and ramp mixture. Let cook a couple of minutes until the edges of the rice have turned translucent. Add white wine to deglaze the pan.
- Once the rice has absorbed the wine, you can add your veggie stock, one ladleful at a time, waiting between scoops for the liquid to be absorbed by the rice. You'll want to stir this often to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
- After adding the last ladle full of stock, stir in the Ramp ribbons, the Parmesan cheese and Pine nuts. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
- *To toast pine nuts: add pine nuts to a dry skillet on medium heat. Stir often. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned and then remove from heat.
- This is one of those dishes which comes together quickly and is labor intensive, so it's best to have the ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking.
Have you ever made risotto, and did you ever find it slightly daunting? Have you ever eaten ramps? Are you fancy pants chef, or do you prefer to cook in the nude?