We went on a slightly soggy, but still invigorating hike with friends over the weekend and what did we spy in perky clumps all over the forest floor? So. Many. Ramps. I am fond of saying that I like ramps, I’m just not “OMG ramps” about them. They are garlicky and onion-y, and they are one of the first edibles that pops up around here in the spring. I’ve always seen them as having their own transitional season, rather than being a strictly spring vegetable. Anyway, as we carefully stepped around river banks and leaped over tracks of mud, we kept spotting them. My man always comes prepared, so finally I asked for his pocket knife and cut some for us to split with our friends when the hike was over.
We took enough for one meal and cut through the stem so that the bulb was still in the ground–for more ramps next year and forever after that, hopefully. Wild food is cool, but exercising care and respect is even cooler. This article is really helpful if you’re thinking about going on your own ramping adventure. I think I’ve said this before, but it’s not a locavore/foodie badge of honour or something. It’s a gift from the earth. An attitude of gratitude will make them taste so much sweeter (or more garlicky, whatever).
As I said earlier, I kind of see ramps as a transitional season crop, perfect for mixing with all-year ingredients. I’m a lover of potato salads, but they have to be done a certain way–vinaigrette for the dressing, tons of sharp/acidic flavours, and with satiating side elements in the mix. I have a recipe for potato salad with caramelized onions and pickles (!!) in my book that is amazing, but I’m always working on some kind of seasonal spin with this dish.
With this version, I serve the salad warm with a solid helping of cooked French lentils and spring vegetables. The lentils stay firm, but integrate seamlessly with all the other elements. They make the salad feel hearty without taking away from the carb-fest quality, which is key! The very cool people at GRAIN have been sending me their French lentils for a while, and they’re part of our meal prep every week. When I take the box of lentils out of my pantry, I see a picture of the farmer and I’m reminded of the fact that they were harvested a couple provinces over with a transparency that is uncommon in dry goods. Their whole line of products is superior in quality and freshness to every other brand I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot). It’s feel-good food in all ways imaginable. Their journal is also an excellent recipe resource, and there happens to be an interview with me up there today ;)
Hope that some of you get a chance to make this salad while we have the spring goodies around. Even if you don’t, this one transitions to late spring and summer just fine. Start with the potato/lentil/dressing base and add in seasonal elements that you have on hand. In the meantime, hope that all of you are enjoying some sunshine and warmer days. xo’s!
ROASTED POTATO SALAD WITH FRENCH LENTILS & SPRING VEGETABLES
Print the recipe here!
NOTES: If you can’t find ramps in your area, just substitute with 3-4 finely sliced green onions, and skip the step where I toss the chopped stems in with the asparagus/potatoes. You can use white wine vinegar in place of the sherry vinegar. Last thing: it’s important to season the whole salad thoroughly. It might seem like a lot of salting is going on here, but this salad needs it, trust!
1 small shallot, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons minced shallot)
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
5 tablespoons olive oil
POTATOES + SALAD INGREDIENTS:
2 lbs mini yukon gold potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon za’atar spice
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup French lentils, rinsed
10-12 ramps/wild leeks
15-18 spears of asparagus, woody ends removed + cut into bite-sized pieces
2-3 radishes, chopped
¼ cup fresh dill leaves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the minced shallot, mustard, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Set aside.
Cut the potatoes into halves and transfer them to a large baking sheet. If some of the potatoes are particularly large, cut them into quarters. Toss the potatoes with 1 ½ tablespoons of the olive oil, za’atar, salt, and pepper. Slide the potatoes into the oven and set a timer for 40 minutes.
While the potatoes are roasting, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the lentils to the saucepan and simmer until just tender, about 18-20 minutes. Drain the lentils and transfer to a bowl. Toss the warm lentils with 2 tablespoons of the dressing, some salt and pepper, and set aside.
Separate the ramp leaves from the stems. Mince the ramp leaves and set aside. Finely chop ramp stems.
Once the 40 minute timer on the potatoes rings, take the potatoes out of the oven and give them a stir. Push them over to one side of the baking sheet. Drop the asparagus and chopped ramp stems on the empty part of the baking sheet. Toss the asparagus/ramp stems with the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper. Slide the baking sheet back into the oven for 10 minutes, or until asparagus is bright green and tender.
To serve, combine the potatoes, asparagus/ramp stems, lentils, ramp leaves, radishes, dill, and remaining vinaigrette in a large bowl. Season the salad with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
*This post was created in partnership with GRAIN. All opinions/endorsements are my own. First time buyers get a 15 % discount on GRAIN products with my code: FIRSTMESS15. Thanks for supporting!