Spring ephemerals (ramps!) and hearty pantry staples: a recipe

In the gentle slopes of the Appalachian mountains, spring is synonymous with ramp season. Or at least a small sliver of it, anyway—these cheery yellow-green leaves spring up from the forest floor for just about a month. Their impermanence makes them feel special. But due to overharvesting, slow-growing ramps may become elusive in a more permanent way. It’s important to treat these special plants like the special treat that they are. Here is a great resource for ramp identification and sustainable harvesting. Enjoy responsibly.

A friend clued me in to a patch of ramps growing by a nearby pond, and I made the trek to grab a few leaves. I’ve made ramp pesto before, which is delicious, but this year I decided to blend them into a creamy sauce with some white beans I had in the pantry. The light, savory ramp flavor shines through here, with just a few other ingredients to round out the sauce.

RAMPS! just the leaves, of course.

I used sweet potato “noodles” for no reason other than that I was out of pasta and didn’t want to make a special trip to the store, but I’m sure regular wheat pasta would be just as delicious, if not more so (shh, don’t tell sweet potatoes, one of my great loves, that they just don’t hold a candle in this form to the original). Kale was the green veg I had on hand, but if I made this again, I would probably roast up some broccoli instead. Basically, the star of this recipe is the ramp sauce, and the supporting elements are pretty much interchangeable.

Please let me know if you make this recipe, and I hope you enjoy. Happy ramping!

Sweet potato noodles with creamy ramp sauce and crispy kale (vegan)

  • Serves: 4
  • Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (~1.25 lb.)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch red kale, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1 pack Field Roast apple sage vegan sausages

For the ramp sauce:

  • 1 handful sustainably foraged ramp leaves
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 cups cooked white beans
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Spiralize sweet potatoes. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a regular vegetable peeler to create fettuccine-like strips.
  2. Wash and roughly chop the ramp leaves and peel and crush the garlic clove. Sauté the ramps and garlic in 1 tsp olive oil on low-medium heat until fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the ramps and garlic to a blender along with the rest of the sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth, adding more water if you want a thinner sauce.
  4. If needed, add another tsp olive oil to the same pan. Cook chopped veggie sausage (if using) for ~3 min. on each side until browned. Then, add kale, salt, & pepper and cook for several more minutes until kale is wilted and crispy in places. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. In the same pan, sauté the sweet potato noodles (swoodles? let’s go with it) on medium heat, adding a bit more oil or water as needed to keep them from sticking to the pan. After 3 minutes or so, cover the pan to steam the swoodles until al dente, about 6-7 minutes total.
  6. Add sauce, kale, and veggie sausage to the swoodles and cook on low heat until sauce is heated through. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • The sweet potato noodles can get soggy if they are left saucy for too long, so if you’re saving some of this recipe for later, keep the uncooked sweet potato noodles separate from the sauce and saute+ combine them immediately before eating.
  • Recipe somewhat inspired by this one from Minimalist Baker.

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