Shortly after the kids are born down the road, I venture to another part of my region where I begin my yearly foraging ritual. Ramps are among the teasers of a lush season. They the first wild and foraged ingredient I used when I started cooking and studying food at a professional level. The culinary application on ramps has taken off in the last few years and now ramps are perhaps the hippest of alliums that chefs and other food enthusiasts tinker with. During the months of April through June, every restaurant around spotlights ramps and makes them the star of each dish they are on. Some of the interesting ramp applications I saw last season were ramp spaetzle, pickled ramp (faux) caviar, ramp vichyssoise and ramp kimchee. I know I will be impressed at a handful more this year. For me, I like them done simple- grilled, sautéed or puréed.
On this week’s installment of the Foraging Fairy (uhhh..) I’m running with my pasta making video debut and adding wild nettles for a robust, textural and, of course, healthy green pasta dish that can be accompanied with cheese and various other garden/ foraged treats.
Stinging nettles grow in the wild starting in early spring into the summer. (When you cook them the skin-irritating stingers dissipate so there’s no need to worry of indigestion). Although nettles aren’t as flavorful as ramps or asparagus they offer a lovely green color and texture similar to baby spinach or chard.