Everything You Need to Know About Cooking with Foraged Ingredients | culture: the word on cheese
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Everything You Need to Know About Cooking with Foraged Ingredients


Ramps, fiddleheads, and morels oh my! Spring foraging is in full swing and we are all about it. Whether you pull over on the side of the road to snag a handful of ramps, hunt for wild morels, or snag a quart of fiddleheads at your local farmers market – count yourself lucky if you get your hands on these coveted ingredients. Read on to get culture’s favorite recipes featuring these springtime delicacies.

And remember, if you do harvest wild ramps, be sure to cut only one leaf, leaving the bulb and second leaf to continue growing. This will ensure they can continue to flourish for years to come.

Learn more about harvesting and cooking fiddlehead ferns from Katie Aberbach

“If you live in a region where fiddleheads are grown, you can forage for them, but be careful: Some varieties, such as bracken fern, are believed to be carcinogenic and may cause food poisoning (it’s also important to avoid eating fiddleheads that are raw or undercooked, as experts warn it could make you sick). Ostrich fern is the safest variety to eat; the easiest route to obtaining these quirky coils is to buy them from your friendly local farmer or grocer.”

Learn about the history of ramps from Monica Petrucci

“Ramps are similar to scallions, with bulb-like stems and leafy green tops, and they’re a member of the wild onion family. What sets them apart is their bold, pungent flavor, which combines everything we love about onion and garlic. To enjoy ramps with cheese, try them raw with fresh chèvre for a punchy bite.”

Our Favorite Foraged Recipes

Ramps

Quick Asparagus, Pea, and Ramp Soup
This soup comes together in literally minutes and its bright green color is reminiscent of all things spring. If you don’t have access to ramps, you can easily substitute with the white parts of fresh leeks. To add some protein and make this soup a heartier meal, top each serving with a poached egg. Serve any version with crusty bread to mop every drop from the bowl.
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Cheesy Spaghetti with Ramps and Chiles
This dish combines the garlicky flavor of ramps with Italian cheeses we love, plus a spicy kick.
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Confit of Heirloom Potatoes with Grilled Ramps and Taleggio
So simple and so good. Chef Alex Seidel uses potatoes grown on his farm; purchase yours from the farmers market if possible, for the best flavor. The earthiness of the potatoes paired with the oniony ramps and pungent, creamy Taleggio is an unbeatable combination. Be sure to have the cheese brought up to room temperature before using, says Seidel; otherwise, “you’ll have to melt it in the oven and the cheese will lose its textural integrity.”
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Wild Morels

Mushroom Risotto with Truffled Pecorino
Fresh, wild mushrooms, paired with a dense cheese containing truffles, deepen the flavor of this risotto. We especially like using Moliterno Black Truffle Pecorino from Sardinia, but other aged, flavored cheeses can do the job, too.
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Myriad Mushroom, Crème Fraîche, and Chèvre Turnovers
The mushrooms in play here are up to your palate, what’s in your pantry, and/or what’s available for purchase. My top combination is dried morels, fresh maitake, oyster, and shiitake. Porcini salt is a nice addition, but an equal amount of kosher salt will do.
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Fiddle Head Ferns

Foraged Greens with Young Pecorino Sardo
When Jonathon Sawyer, the 30-year-old chef/owner of downtown Cleveland’s Greenhouse Tavern, admits, “I tend to be a bit obsessive,” it’s hard to suppress a smile. Fixating on food and ingredients is common for great chefs, but Sawyer does it so cheerfully. Sawyer has made a name for himself with his approachable, French-inflected gastropub fare and his artisan food ethos. “I grew up eating tomatoes from my parents’ garden and home-baked bread,” he explains. “And I’ve been inspired to source locally and sustainably by the chefs I’ve worked with. But having my own kids really solidified that it’s just the right thing to do.”
The restaurant he owns with his wife, Amelia, reflects this philosophy. One look at Sawyer’s menu (which changes up to two items a week to keep pace with ingredients as they come into season), and it’s clear that cheese is another of his passions.
Because Sawyer looks for nearly any excuse to go hiking in the woods, he often features foraged foods on his menus. For this salad, he likes to use pungent wild garlic mustard. More readily obtainable substitutes include sorrel, red mustard, arugula, and rucola (wild arugula). To shave the young vegetables, use a sharp peeler or a mandolin.
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Josie Krogh

Josie Krogh is culture's Digital Strategy Lead. She earned her master's degree in Agricultural and Applied Economics from The University of Georgia. Josie developed a love of food while working at farmstands in the D.C. area as a young adult, and discovered her love of cheese while living and working on a dairy farm on Martha's Vineyard. She is passionate about the food supply chain, fresh stone fruit, and dogs. Josie currently lives in Catskill, NY.

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