The First Greens of April

The ramps are here, the ramps are here! These cuties are now for sale at the Co-op, along with wild-crafted local watercress. These first spring greens are so precious. Life is returning after another long Wisconsin winter.

This is the same bunch of ramps sauteed in butter. Now before anyone goes and scolds me for using these rare wild onions, I should explain that here in Wisconsin these are harvested sustainably year after year. I know that other parts of the country are not so lucky, but that's not going to stop me from eating these beautiful spring leeks during their short season.

What is a ramp? It's a wild baby leek that grows in abundance in wooded areas. These came from Keewaydin Organics in the Driftless region of Western Wisconsin. They have wonderful spicy oniony garlicy flavor, and are only available in the early spring.

This is the watercress - a beautiful thick bunch of it, also from Keewaydin. This is a spicy peppery green that grows in clear springs.... another sure sign of spring. Like many other wild plants it's very high in nutrients.

I start getting inspired when this first produce of the year comes in, and I wanted to combine the watercress and ramps into some sort of spring dinner. Sandwiches sounded like just the thing, so I got this beautiful round steak from The Rustic Table out of the freezer, seasoned it with salt and black pepper, and put it in the broiler for just a few minutes....

My sandwich consisted of the steak cut nice and thin, fresh watercress, sauteed ramps, and Dreamfarm chevre on a demi-baguette from The Batch Bakehouse. I'll show you a picture in a bit, but first I want to tell you about the potatoes I made for the side.

As we move farther into spring local potatoes of decent quality are becoming harder to find. These are from Minnesota, which isn't exactly local, but closer than California. Most potatoes from last fall are starting to really show their age, but these are still looking pretty good.

I sliced them nice and thin....

.... and fried them in local sunflower oil until they were golden.

Homemade potato chips! Why haven't I thought of this before? They were exceptionally sweet and delicious. Definitely something I'll make again.

The finished plate. A wonderful hearty meal for a cold and rainy April day.

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