Foraging for Food: Ramp, Asparagus, and Ricotta Frittata
Berkshire native Alana Chernila, local politician, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), dispenses change and cooking ideas to readers and friends. She shares her peak-of-the-season recipes with Rural Intelligence to help us make the most of what’s growing in our region. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has just announced that she has a new one in the works: Meals from the Homemade Pantry (Clarkson Potter), due out in 2014.
Before we get into it—an apology.
I’m just a little bit sorry for including ramps in this recipe. I’m sorry that the title of this post includes a food for which you might have to forage, most likely with someone who either 1) despite living in Brooklyn, seems to know their way around the woods better than one of the Boxcar children, or 2) is some old reclusive writer friend of your great uncle, who always makes the offer to show you his “ramp spot.” Perhaps it says something about my own insecurities, but ramps are one of those foods that tend to make me feel like I’m looking on at the cool kids from afar. Although I do come into a little bunch of ramps now and then, most of the time I see beautiful recipes with ramps and I just feel that they are out of my reach. It is not a particularly inclusive ingredient. However, when life gives you ramps…
And with all that, how did I manage to find these ramps to scatter and roast with the asparagus? That is a bit more of a story. But the short answer is–they were a gift.
And now, the frittata, which might just be my favorite in a long line of frittatas. It’s heavy on the ricotta, and the result is a bit denser and more substantial than a typical frittata. And if you don’t have access to ramps (or a hipster from Brooklyn or an old friend of your great uncle’s or a really nice woman on her way from the farmers’ market), no need to worry. As ramps are wild leeks, regular old leeks will be a good second in their place. Scallions or chives would also make a fitting replacement, but I’d recommend that you reduce the quantity by about half.
Ramp, Asparagus, and Ricotta Frittata
1 large bunch asparagus, trimmed of the tough stalk area (11-12 ounces after trimming), cleaned and dry
1 bunch ramps (4 to 6 ounces)
7 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/4 teaspoons salt (use less if your ricotta is salted)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
a few grinds of fresh-ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking tray with olive oil, and lay the asparagus on it. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil, and roast for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the ramps. Cut off the root, and remove the loose outer skin around the bulb. Cut off the leaves, rinse, roughly chop, and set aside. Clean the bulbs of any excess dirt. Then, add the bulbs to the roasting asparagus and roast for another 5 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then roughly chop the asparagus and ramp bulbs.
3. In a blender, combine the eggs, milk, ricotta, salt, flour, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
4. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, and as it melts, spread it around the bottom and sides of the pan. Add the ramp leaves and cook, stirring often, until they wilt—about 1 minute. Add the asparagus and ramp bulbs, then the egg mixture. Do not stir!
5. Preheat the broiler setting on your oven to a medium heat (if you have that option). While it heats, let the frittata cook on the stovetop under your watchful eye. It will start to barely bubble and firm up, but what you’re really watching for is that moment when it starts to separate from the sides of the pan. Or if you smell any hint of burning, remove it from heat. Transfer to the oven, and watch carefully. Within a few minutes (or quicker—some broilers are fast!), the frittata will be golden and firm all the way through. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. This is also great cold, and excellent picnic food.
Reprinted with permission from Eatingfromthegroundup.com. All text and photos copyright 2008-13 by Alana Chernila.