Get to Know Your Greens | Ramps + Ramp Arancini
When ramps appear at the farmers market, I know that spring is really here. The season has had a slower start than usual since we had so much rain and fall-like temperatures, but alas, better late than never! Ramps, the wispy member of the leek family is a green that can be prepared in a variety of ways. Less pungent then garlic, you can pickle them, sauté them and incorporate into an omelet, pasta or stir fry or blend them into a creamy pesto. I decided to make risotto and slather it in ramp pesto. You can also just enjoy just the risotto dish—it is quite tasty—or you can take it a step further and make arancini. Either way, you will enjoy a delicious meal.
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 lemon juiced or 1 cup dry white wine
1 pound arborio rice
4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 bunch of ramps
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 ball of mozzarella, cut into small cubes
3 cups bread crumbs
4 large eggs, whisked
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups canola oil for frying
Coarse sea salt
Special Equipment: Thermometer
Directions: First prepare risotto one to two days in advance. In a soup pot over low heat, bring the broth to a low simmer. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, drizzle olive oil into the bottom of a pan. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add rice and cook for about 2 minutes. Add either lemon juice or white wine and cook until absorbed into rice. Begin adding the broth in 3/4 cup additions until absorbed. Continue adding broth until it is finished and the rice is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile make the ramp pesto. Combine cheese, ramps and olive oil into a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Once risotto is done, add in pesto, stirring until completely combined. Let cool before placing into the refrigerator.
To Prepare Arancini: Remove risotto from refrigerator. Prepare all of the ingredients for frying. Line a baking sheet with a paper towel,set aside. Place bread crumbs, eggs, flour and mozzarella into four different bowls. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, add canola oil and using a thermometer wait until it reaches 375 degrees. To prepare arancini, place a small spoonful in the palm of your hand. Press down with your finger and create a small well for the mozzarella. Add the cheese and cover with another 1/2 spoonful. Roll ball into eggs, then move to flour, back to eggs then roll into bread crumbs. Repeat until finished. At this point the oil should be ready. Taking care not to crowd the pan, add rice balls into oil, frying until golden on each side—about 2 minutes on each side. Once cooked, place onto paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt. Can be made in advance. To reheat, preheat the oven to 350 degrees line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake until reheated, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Makes about 15 to 20 rice balls depending on the size you make them.
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Photography by Alison Engstrom