About 10 years ago, if you would have told me that a tomato was a summer veggie (fruit), I would have looked at your funny. I didn't have much of a grasp on seasonal foods back then, and why it is important to eat seasonally. I did, however, know that those tomatoes were hard and flavorless in the winter, especially compared to the ones that I would eat in the summer, but a tomato was something I thought I was okay to enjoy all year round, because the grocery store sold them, and if the grocery store sell them then that means it's all good. (As I'm sure you've guessed, I've since become much much more skeptical of what is on the average grocery store's shelves. )
I distinctly remember my first realization that there was a very specific season for certain foods. It was in the springtime when I started shopping at whole foods more often instead of the run of the mill stop and shop, and all of a sudden fresh peas and fiddlehead ferns started taking over the shelves pushing out some of the root vegetables. It also was around the time that farmers markets started to pop up where I lived, and I became much more aware of the change in season based on what was coming into the markets at what time. If I wanted a really tasty peach, I had to be patient and wait until late summer, same thing went for that juicy tomato. Nowadays, I wouldn't be caught dead buying a tomato in the dead of winter. It just feels wrong.
Spring is my favorite season for veggies because it is exciting to see a spring veggie after months of roasting root vegetables. Spring also feels shorter than the other season, like a fleeting moment. If you don't slow down and savor it, it is gone and we're onto those summer veggies. Ramps are the prefect example, because they are here for such a short period of time that when you see them you have to grab as many as you think you can eat, and turn them into pickles and pesto so that you can enjoy them for a little longer than there are here for.
A few days ago I found ramps for the first time, and snatched up three bundles. Just enough to get my ramp fix, but I want to leave some behind for other ramp enthusiasts to enjoy too. Determined to use them all right away (because they can turn limp pretty quickly) I decided to make a quick pickled ramp, a ramp tahini, and I also saved a few on the side to enjoy in their deliciously pungent raw form. I whipped out my spiralizer, made some veggie noodles, tossed them with the ramp tahini and finished them with the pickled and fresh ramps, and threw on some roasted shiitakes for an umami kick. I sat outside, with my ramp-heavy, raw pasta, and I was so happy. It was now officially spring.
For the SPIRALIZER GIVEAWAY!
Friends, I am giving away 2 spiralizers to two separate readers! This is the one I use at home, and I love it! It is well designed and it comes with three different attachments to make different shaped veggie noodles.
To participate, please sign in right below here and then leave a comment telling me what you would love to make with your new spiralizer! Contest closes one week from today (4/30/15). Good luck!
daikon + zucchini noodles with a ramp tahini, crispy shiitakes, + pickled ramps
If you cannot find ramps near you or if they are no longer in season, you can leave out the ramp pickle, and sub green onion in the tahini. It will not make much of a different (except it might not feel as exciting as using a ramp ;).
for the pickled ramps:
about 10 ramps, trimmed, white parts only (green parts reserved), chopped
about 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
for the crispy shiitake's:
3.5 oz (about 1/2 cup) of shiitake mushrooms, stem removed, and sliced thin lengthwise
tamari + sunflower oil
for the ramp tahini:
1/4 cup of water
3 tablespoons of tahini
1 tablespoon of tamari
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 scant tablespoon of shallots
10 ramps, the green parts only (the white parts reserved for the pickle), chopped
** feel free to reserve a few of the green parts to sprinkle on top
for the noodles:
2 large yellow zucchini
1 large daikon
additional toppings: gomasio, microgreens
Pickle the ramps:
- Place the sliced ramps (white parts) into a small bowl and cover with the vinegar. Set aside until you're ready to serve.
Roast the shiitake's:
- Pre-heat the oven to 425º.
- Place the sliced shiitake's onto a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with tamari. Then drizzle with a little sunflower oil and toss to coat evenly.
- Bake the mushrooms for about 15-20 minutes, until they are brown and crispy. Remove, and set aside until you're ready to assemble the noodles.
Make the ramp tahini:
- Place all of the ingredients for the tahini (except for the ramps) into a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a small bowl, and stir in the ramps (green parts). Set aside until you're ready to assemble.
Lastly, make the noodles:
- Using a spiralizer, or a julienne peeler, turn the zucchini and daikon into long noodles that resemble spaghetti. Place the veggie noodles into a large bowl.
Assemble the dish:
- Toss the veggie noodles with the ramp tahini. Add about a teaspoon of the pickled ramp (strained from the vinegar). Top with the shiitakes, and any additional toppings that you like.