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by Heather Harris-Brady

Today would have been my grandmother’s 101st birthday. Long-time readers may remember that I’ve mentioned her before – she was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. She was a cultured city girl who had grown up in a well-to-do family, so I’m sure it wasn’t easy when she became a farm wife at 33 and moved out into the country. As a girl she had piano and china painting lessons, she could speak French and while she liked to eat out she would often say that she could have a full meal on the table in the time it took a restaurant to get your salad. She wasn’t kidding about that, she could.

So where am I going with this? One of the things we would do in the spring was to gather tiny dandelion greens before they had budded. We’d steam them lightly and eat them with butter, pepper and a spritz of vinegar. Foraging is a great way to spend a spring afternoon.

When I saw Deb’s recipe for ramp pizza on Smitten Kitchen the other day it was destiny calling my name. Why destiny must always speak in food I can’t say. Just once it would be nice if it could speak in a winning Powerball ticket or a love letter from a literary agent – you know, just to mix things up a little.

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Ramps, also called spring onions or wild leeks, are native to the eastern half of the US. They are perennials, and when I gather them I make sure to just take a few at a time from denser clumps. Deb got hers from the farm market, I collected mine a few steps from the porch. Ours have a very delicate, mild garlic/onion taste.

When you dig them out they look a lot like green onions, just with a fuller set of leaves.

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When you’ve washed them and cut the root off they look like this:

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Wild Leek (Ramp) Pizza, Makes one large pizza (8 slices)

1 recipe pizza dough
1 bunch of wild leeks (ramps), cleaned
1 8 oz. container portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. spinach leaves
1 package chicken sausage, sliced
6 oz. grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet with olive oil.

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Add 1 T. of olive oil to a saucepan and heat on medium-hot. Saute the mushrooms until they begin to brown. Chop up the leeks and add them to the pan. I use the stems and about halfway up the leaves. Add the spinach and sausage. Heat through so the spinach wilts.

Press the dough out onto the cookie sheet and cover with half of the cheese. Pile the sauteed vegetable mixture on top.

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Bake for about 20 minutes or until the crust is lightly brown. Put the rest of the cheese on top with some cracked pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

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This was one of the best pizzas I’ve had in a long time. You could use regular leeks if those are more readily available, but if you have ramps in your neck of the woods you should try them.

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