Nothing screams spring to me quite like fiddleheads and ramps. Fiddleheads are the newly budding tips of ferns that are common to the Northeast and ramps are wild leeks. The two make a fabulous pair and can make any meal visually stunning and delicious.
Fiddleheads are the easier of the two to recognize. They can be harvested from several different varieties of ferns: cinnamon fern, royal fern, zenmai and vegetable fern. These grow all over the world but aren’t cultivated by farmers. If you decide to harvest your own, the rule is to harvest fewer than half the fiddleheads from any one plant to allow the plant to survive the assault and produce again the next year. Be careful that you know your ferns, some are thought to be carcinogenic; specifically ostrich fern and royal fern. That being said, this isn’t quite as harrowing as hunting wild mushrooms. Note which varieties of ferns grow in a particular area when they develop fully and then you’re set for the next spring when you go fiddlehead hunting! Caveats being made, these vegetables are an incredibly tasty, nutritious and filling
addition to any meal and they also can be stored by freezing.
The flavor in ramps varies from root to tip. The bulbs have an intense and unique flavor that marries the best elements of onion and garlic. The stem is reminiscent of scallions and the leaves remind me of spinach with a touch of asparagus flavor. Subsequently, I advocate using as much of the plant as possible since the entire plant is harvested and the whole thing is delicious.
When I was a kid we would make this dynamic duo into a salad with chicken and toasted nuts. I loved the flavors but was terrified of chicken and egg products that sat at room temperature for hours and hours. Horrifying thoughts aside, Brent and I decided to try it with soy curls instead and were delighted with the result.
To start you’ll want to gather the following ingredients.
1.5 cups dry soy curls
3 cups water
1 cube veggie bouillon
15 ramp bulbs, peeled and ends chopped off
chopped ramp greens
ramp stems, the red sections, chopped
1/2 cup fiddleheads
1/2 cup vegenaise
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp flake red pepper (optional)
1/4 cup chopped toasted nuts (optional)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Prepare the water and bouillon in your microwave in a microwave safe bowl. Heat the water at one minute intervals until the bouillon dissolves with light stirring. Add the soy curls. Heat as before until the water is mostly absorbed. Saute with olive oil until lightly browned and crispy. I like to refrigerate this dish in order to cool it, but this salad is also delicious when warm.
Separate the bulbs, stems and greens from the ramps. Saute the bulbs
and fiddleheads until the fiddleheads start to get tender.
Add the greens and stir until they wilt. Refrigerate to cool, if desired.
Combine the soy curls, greens and red stems with the rest of the ingredients. We used Follow Your Heart grapeseed vegenaise. It’s pretty awesome. We also omitted the cranberries. Serve on toasted bread.If you don’t have ramps and fiddleheads, substitute asparagus for the fiddleheads, spinach for the ramp greens, green onion for the ramp stems, and leeks for the ramp bulbs. Wow… that’s way more complicated. If you’re sensitive to soy, seitan or chickpeas would make a great substitute for soy curls. If you’ve got an allergy to pecans, toasted sunflower seeds have a great flavor and crunch.
Really, this stunning and delicious. It was crisp herbal flavors married to the nutty savory soy curls all mellowed out by lemon and vegenaise. We had it with a crisp glass of red wine and savored a lazy Sunday.
This is Christie and Brent, signing off!