This month’s weather may make some blue, for me, its accompanying warming makes me see blooms all around me even on dreary days. I must admit that this is the most visually exciting time of year for me. I am awed by nature’s endless display of color, shape, texture and smell all which cause my pace to slow down --I am well advised to always leave a little earlier then need be in order to be able to stop and take a whiff. There are few flowers that don’t appeal – my secret ambition is to be a farmer of only edible flowers. And, as a side business I’d maintain an apiary alchemically transforming those culinary beauties not only into plateful of whimsy but luscious honey.
But I digress, and so it is when my fancy takes flower.
Right now, there is a broad leaf allium that has no bloom to entice me but its fragrance is bolder than its inedible, botanical, identical twin, Lily of the Valley. Ramps, are the true sign of spring on the east coast – while California rolls into another harvest: artichoke; asparagus: avocado; strawberries. I do miss the wealth that a temperate, fertile region offers throughout the year – but absence does make the heart grown fonder and I am absolutely atwitter now that the first of the year’s foods has arrived.
Sauté Ramps – yields 4
2 bunches of ramps (about 14-pound)
1-tablespoon olive oil
1 boneless/skinless chicken breast – sliced in thin strips
15 green olives – pitted
2-teaspoons lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim the roots from the ramps bottoms and discard. Cut the ramps in half, separating the white stems from the broad green leaves. Wash the ramps well.
Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over a high heat and then add the oil and chicken. Cook for a few minutes to lightly brown, and then add the ramp stems. Cook for a few minutes longer. Mix in the ramps leaves, olives, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Cook to wilt the leaves down.
Serve warm on toasted peasant bread slices.