Caramelized Ramp & Ribboned Asparagus Pizza

Caramelized Ramp & Ribboned Asparagus Pizza

I’m curious — is it just me, or has the spring ramp craze been extra crazed this year? At first, I thought maybe it just seemed that way because I finally started using Instagram (total old lady when it comes to embracing new forms of social media). But when I asked my mom last weekend if she and my dad had ever seen any ramps in the woods, she replied, “What is it with those things? Wai Shun (long-time family friend who owns a Japanese restaurant in Delhi, NY) asked me the same thing the other week.” She went on to say that they’d never come upon any, which surprises me considering their property consists of around 60 acres of forest-y land adjoining 500 acres of state land. She then called yesterday to tell me that she’d spoken with the woman who runs a little garden center/farm stand in the neighboring town, and when my mom asked her about ramps, she was equally unsure of their existence on her property, although thought that might be what’s been growing under her blueberry bushes. But she said that just that past weekend, some douchetastic guy that was clearly up visiting from the city (better known ’round those parts as a “citiot”) came into the store demandingly searching for ramps as well.

ramps

If the ramp market has yet to be tapped in that part of upstate NY, it’s probably a good thing. Since I’d only been introduced to ramps two years ago, I hadn’t given much thought to over-foraging until Laura wrote this post last week. I’d still like to search my parents’ woods myself, though, just to see what I can find. Perhaps my parents can spend their retirement foraging and making a fortune off selling ramps to the citiots.

(Also, I have a number of friends and I’m sure a lot of readers from downstate, so I’d like to assure everyone that we certainly don’t think you’re all citiots! :) That term is reserved for the weekenders that speed through our towns, talk down to locals, and have their cell phones permanently attached to their faces. Ugh.)

Caramelized Ramp & Ribboned Asparagus Pizza

Given the ramp craze, I probably don’t need to explain too much about these delicious little things, despite the fact that they can be hard to come by in certain places. My love of them kind of fascinates me, considering just how much I hate onions. (You can read more about my introduction to ramps in this post.) Between their short season and the fact that I tend to cook and eat ALL the ramps before I can even think about getting out my camera, I don’t have the chance to get in many posts about them. You aren’t really missing out though, since I’m pretty much just caramelizing them every time, then putting them in or on whatever else I’m making. I’d love to try oven roasting them or making them into pesto, or incorporating them into butter (omg right?) too. Eventually, this will happen. But right now, we’re going to talk about caramelizing, and pairing them with one of my other favorite spring veggies — asparagus.

ribboned asparagus

caramelized ramps & asparagus

I wanted to keep this pizza on the lighter side, so I made the crust a lot thinner than usual, and dialed back the cheese to allow the veggies to be the real stars. The base of the pizza is a healthy dose of Greek yogurt dotted with agave, thyme, and goat cheese, then topped with caramelized ramps, asparagus ribbons, and some baby kale, plus a little bit of parmesan and fontina, and some red pepper flakes. The one thing I had intended to do once the pizza came out of the oven was drizzle a balsamic reduction all over it, but I completely forgot! You should do that, though, if you make this pizza. (It was a totally passable version of delicious without it, but really, balsamic reduction. It can do no wrong.)

Caramelized Ramp & Ribboned Asparagus Pizza

Since ramps consist of a bulb and greens, I caramelize them in three stages: The bulbs go in the pan first, then the section where the leaves me the bulb, and finally, the greens. I added the leftover asparagus heads and stems to the pan at stage two as well. The asparagus ribbons and baby kale get tossed with a little bit of olive oil and sea salt (if you have some smoked sea salt on hand, definitely use that). The tang of the Greek yogurt base works really well with the greens and the occasional kick from the red pepper flakes. The cheese mostly hangs out at the back of the flavor party, lending a hint of earthiness from the fontina and saltiness from the parmesan, and the occasional punch of decadence from the goat cheese. I can only imagine that a drizzle of balsamic would have made the whole thing perfect, but there’s always next time!

Caramelized Ramp & Ribboned Asparagus Pizza

Caramelized Ramp & Ribboned Asparagus Pizza

  • half of this pizza dough recipe (for a thin crust pizza)
  • cornmeal for dusting (or parchment paper)
  • 1 small bunch of ramps (approximately a dozen)
  • half a dozen medium-sized asparagus, shaved into ribbons, remaining heads and stems reserved
  • handful of baby kale (or another green of your preference)
  • 1/3–1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/3 cup of freshly grated fontina
  • fresh thyme
  • agave or honey
  • pinch of smoked sea salt
  • red pepper flakes
  • olive oil (no more than 2–3 tbsp should do it)
  • healthy pinch of kosher salt

To caramelize the ramps:

Wash ramps thoroughly to remove any dirt. Cut bulbs from ramps a little bit below where the leaves begin. Make a second cut separating the section where the bulb meets the leaves. Finally, chop remaining greens into large-ish pieces.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over low heat. Add ramp bulbs and sprinkle with the healthy pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring often, for 10–15 minutes, or until bulbs begin to soften and lightly brown. Add the stem-meets-bulb sections to the pan along with the reserved heads and stems of the asparagus. Cook for another 7–10 minutes, or until the bulbs have become quite soft and nicely browned. Add remaining greens and cook until thoroughly wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make the pizza:

Preheat oven with your pizza stone to 500°. (If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can bake your pizza on the back of a baking sheet. [I actually had to do this to make this pizza, because my pizza stone was MIA! Turns out it was in the stairwell storage space. I put it there during Easter and then forgot about it......] Just preheat the baking sheet in the oven for about 15 minutes, then carefully slide the pizza right onto the back of it. I recommend using parchment paper if you follow this method, since it just makes things so much easier.)

Toss asparagus ribbons and baby kale with a drizzle of olive oil and the smoked sea salt. Set aside.

Dust your pizza peel with cornmeal. Shape dough, getting crust as thin as possible without tearing. Spread Greek yogurt over the surface, then dot with agave or honey and sprinkle with fresh thyme. Add some small bits of goat cheese (I made mine a little larger than pea-size and spaced them about an inch and a half-ish from each other.) Spread half of the parmesan and fontina over the pizza, then evenly distribute ramps, asparagus, and baby kale. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and top with the remaining cheese.

Combine one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of agave/honey in a bowl and whisk to combine. Brush onto crust.

Bake pizza for about 12 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes. Top with a drizzle of balsamic reduction to make things extra delicious!

Caramelized Ramp & Ribboned Asparagus Pizza

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Comments

  1. says

    I have to admit, I’ve never (knowingly) eaten a ramp. I’ve mentally filed them away with other inedibles like fiddleheads and dandelion greens. That probably makes me a cidiot :) I’ve got to get my act together and find some, this does look delicious.

    • says

      LOL. I don’t think you could ever be a citiot, Sue. :D I actually have a really hard time with fiddleheads (mostly because I never seem to be able to cook them so they actually taste good). I swear, the first time I ever bought them, I did something to make them taste so good. After that, I could never cook them properly again.

  2. says

    No ramps in California–boo! I guess I’ll just have to live vicariously through your gorgeous pictures. This pizza looks stunning! :)

    • says

      Thanks, Eileen! When Eva was out here visiting, she got to try some of the first ramps of the season at my favorite restaurant. I was SO excited, because she’d never had them before, being out in CA and all.

  3. says

    You are probably the fifth or sixth blogger I came across who shared a recipe that called for ramps! I never had ramps and I am soo curious to try this out since I LOVE onion. How can u not like onion?! Well, I don’t like ice creams. Taste buds!!
    Anyways, coming back to the ramp, yes, I have to get that soon. And probably would end up using on a pizza like u did, cause I just love thin crust pizza.

    • says

      I know right? They’ve been all the rage amongst lots of us bloggers on the east coast! I hope you’re able to track some down in CA. I think they can be really hard to come by out there, but I’m pretty sure I remember one of my west coast friends (Alanna of The Bojon Gourmet, I believe) saying that they could be found on rare occasions, for rather exorbitant prices.

      And my hatred of onions is kind of like my not-so-secret shame. :) I blame childhood neurosis that just will not die, but I wish it would! I mean, onions are such a basic foundation of so many things……it would be really nice if I could get over my intense dislike.

  4. says

    Ramps are definitely more hyped up this year methinks. And they seem much more plentiful and abundant than years past– I remember them only being attainable for like 2, 3 weeks at the most. And omigosh yes, that recipe for ramps butter?? I saw it the other day and was like whoa…I never would’ve thought to do that but it sounds amazing. I want to spread it on toast, mix it in my scrambled eggs, put it on steak…you see where I’m going right? :)

    I really LOVE the fact that you mixed agave with oil for that yummilicious crust for the pizza– such a nice touch!

    I’ll admit I don’t even own a pizza stone and exclusively use the back of my baking sheet always to make pizzas. It seems to work fine doesn’t it? :) I’ll just have to keep reminding myself that it’s hotter than a mf pre-baking in a 500 degree oven and that reaching in to grab it sans gloves will result in extreme and excruciating phalangial pain. Ouch!

    • says

      I’m glad someone else thinks so too! I was also thinking that I may have never paid all that much attention to local/seasonal produce until I moved to VT, but yeah — we’re all sorts of ramp crazy up here. And holy crap, that ramp butter on steak — a thousands YESes.

      I have this swiss chard & goat cheese pizza recipe that I started working on years ago. I baked it once a week, tweaking it just a little each time, until I had finally decided it was perfect. One of the final things that brought it all together was dotting agave over the dough and the brushing it on the crust. Now, I always put it on pizzas with lots of greens. It works so well!

      And dude, I was SO surprised by how well the baking sheet method worked. Also, I am totally terrified of anything that has been in a 500° oven — it is CRAZY how hot that is! The first time I ever made pizza, I had a pizza stone but not pizza peel (and didn’t know about the wonders of baking on parchment paper yet). My friend and I actually took the pizza stone out of the pizza oven and set it on the counter to transfer the pizza — horrible idea. There were two parallel burn marks on the counter from the metal pizza stone caddy. Soo glad the landlord decided to redo the counters in our apartment. :)

  5. says

    This sounds SO perfect. Such a wonderful use for the much-hyped ramps. I was only exposed to them a few years ago when I started working for this fore-runner of the local movement-kinda chef. We started getting them (they’re called wild leeks here) in at the restaurant, pickling the bulbs, making soups etc and people were going crazy when they were being dropped off at our back door (by a VERY tough old braud, no less). All I knew was that I had to cook and schlep gear at some shindig in the forest called Wild Leek Festival 2 hours north for a bunch of city types once they were on. I didn’t get the hype AT ALL. Total looks of disdain when I sorted it out by saying “So it’s like… a spring onion with a small bulb..?”

    ANYWAY. Citiots. I get you on that one. Sending a high five :)

    • says

      Oh MAN, I was just reading about ramp festivals today. It sounds so nuts. I love the stinky little things, but the thought of organizing an entire festival around them seems insane, especially given that the aren’t exactly the most sustainable crop. There’s a garlic festival that happens every year in Saugerties, NY, and it sounds like one of my worst nightmares. A co-worker of mine went years ago and said there were so many people, you could barely get to anything. (The state has actually made giant highway exit signs that they put up just for the festival……good grief.)

  6. says

    You are so creative, Carey. I never would have thought to combine any of those things, and I feel like you use greek yogurt in so many awesome ways and I have a very narrow view of what it can be used for. I think it is because my Greek kitchen experience just taught me that yogurt is for use in dips, or eating with honey/fruit, or incorporating it into a cake. Using it as a base for a pizza sauce or for that savory asparagus galette you made is such a good idea, and so much healthier than any other creamy bases. I am going to start using it more creatively, for sure. This sounds so delicious!! And I love that you ribboned the asparagus, I haven’t ever seen it prepped that way before, and I like it!

    And RAMPS. They tasted sooooo good when I had them with you! I had them once more on a pizza at King Arthur Flour and man, I wish I could find them around here. I think it’s just a northern thing :( I was looking up how to grow them and you can buy seeds but it takes about 5 years to establish a reliable colony of them. I don’t plan on staying here that long, but once I move up to Oregon I am going to give it a shot. Plus I think the climate up there would be better suited to them, anyway.

    Also, speaking of seeds! Do you want me to send you some? I know it is kind of late for seed starting, but if you start them in a damp paper towel in a plastic baggie in the sun they grow faster (according to my dad’s Greek lore, but he does this every year in Oregon so it must do something because his plants get HUGE). I have some tomato and melon seeds and some lettuces and some root veggies. Let me know :)

    • says

      It’s so funny, Greek yogurt is one of those things that I always have in the fridge (usually because I just dip everything in it!), and one day I got the idea to put it down on a white pizza as a base, and now I’m totally addicted. Sometimes I’ll even use it on tomato sauce pizza, just because it adds such a great subtle tang.

      I’m so glad you got to have ramps at MLC and then one more time at KAF! I bet you could get a good crop going once you guys are out in Oregon. Cool and shady seems like it will do the trick. :)

      So I actually just went through all my seeds last weekend and did some seedling planting, and I think I might be good! (I had way more stuff left than I thought, and most of them seem to be sprouting already.) I had a whole bunch of tomato seeds that I didn’t even know about, plus lots of herbs and flowers. Unfortunately, I can’t do much with melons and roots because they don’t grow too well in my containers, and I’m hesitant to plant them directly into the city soil around my apartment. (I definitely watched Bagheera use one of the outdoor house gardens as his litter box many summers ago when my downstairs neighbor would plant stuff in it, and now I’m afraid to use them for anything but cutting flowers.) :) But thank you!! I can’t believe how late I’m starting my garden this year, but I know it will be all planted and looking fantabulous soon enough!

  7. says

    HA. Citiots. I feel you on that one, even if I happen to be a city-dweller. :) But seriously, I am constantly amazed by the new shows of douchebaggery (totaly made up that word, but it’s apt in this case) I see displayed on a day to day basis. So obnoxious! Luckily, there are lots of people in this city who seem to feel the same way as I do. If you ever visit Brooklyn, I’ll show you.

    And yes, the ramp craze seems to have hit a fever pitch this year. I am amazed at how quickly they sell, AND what people are willing to pay for them. But then again, people in this city go crazy over every new thing, not to mention there are some majorly deep pockets here. You see this on display a lot at the farmer’s market. Yesterday, I saw people snatching up what seemed like hundreds of dollars worth of peonies. And the asparagus people are still having a heyday, even though asparagus has been around for three weeks already. So yes, tell your parents to check their property. They would make such a killing!

    I’m so happy that I’ve been acquainted with caramelized ramps. It tastes so good on pizza—we made a pizza the other day prominently featuring the taste. But I should toss some asparagus on next time. It’s also one of my favorite spring veggies (despite its bodily effects) and it’s so healthy. This pizza is really healthy, isn’ it? Greek yogurt, honey, thyme, springtime greens, oh, I love this time of year!

    • says

      Hehe! The city definitely holds an amazing mixture of people. :) (Sometimes I feel like the heaviest concentration of citiots is actually on the outskirts of NYC, or in almost all of NJ……teehee. But yeah, I met more than my fair share of entitled citiots in the Westchester area while dating my ex. My goodness.)

      When I was in high school I used to spend my summers working at a farm stand (probably the healthiest job I ever had, since it made me start eating a lot more fruit and also gave me plenty of time to do all my summer reading), and I was amazed by the fact that my boss would drive all the way down to the city every week to sell stuff at the market. Apparently he made a pretty respectable killing off of it, charging far more than he ever would have been able to in our area.

      And yes, this pizza felt pretty healthy, all things considered! (I usually make rather decadent pizzas with monster crusts and tons of cheese, so this was a nice change.) I really like what the springtime does to my appetite, especially since I could definitely use a few……”lighter” meals. (Also, many bike rides.)

  8. says

    I agree with you – ramp(s) have been popping up everywhere this year! I think throwing them on this pizza may be the most appetizing way I’ve seen them prepared yet though!

    • says

      Thanks, Shelly! I’d have to say that chimichurri ramps on waffles definitely give the pizza ramps a run for their money. :D

  9. says

    What do you use as a base to make your balsamic reduction? I see all price levels of balsamic vinegar, and am sure the cheap ones are just flavored, but at about what price level do you really get reasonable good stuff?

    • says

      That’s a great question! The key to getting a decent bottle of balsamic is to look for one labeled “condimento” (or sometimes as “salsa”/”salsa di mosto cotto”). These aren’t considered 100% true balsamics since they’re usually some combination a somewhat traditionally made product + grape juice or mass produced vinegar, but they’re reasonably priced ($10–15) and work well for dressings and glazes/reductions.

  10. says

    Haha I totally think the whole ramp thing has been much more trendy this year than last year, they’re everryywwheerreeee! My brother was on a break from uni in Exeter a few weeks ago, where he has joined a foraging society (…yep. That’s my family.) and brought back a bunch of ramps with him. He cooked them with scrambled eggs and I think some soya sauce for lunch with pita bread one day, it was so freakin good.

    Given my CRAZY love for asparagus and kale, and ramps, and balsamic reduction (I use it straight up as salad dressing sometimes), and the fact that I have been staring at Tartine’s sourdough pizza, I know I will be keeping this topping in mind! I’ve got a sourdough starter on the go, and I’ve finally got a week off from school, so I can definitely see pizza happening in the not-so-distant future…

    • says

      Hehe! I am so intrigued by the foraging community (although I’ve heard that the group around here is a little bit nuts, which doesn’t surprise me given that it’s the weirdo hipster capital of the northeast US, and people looove to be crazy weirdos about everything). OMG, I bet they are sooooo good with eggs! It’s funny, despite the fact that I hate onions, I love the smell of onions + eggs cooking. It reminds me of weekends at my parents house. :)

      And oh man, I am SO psyched for your sourdough starter!! That book is amazing, but I still have yet to make my own. My friend Mara made bread from that book with the sourdough starter a lot a couple years ago, and it was so stupid good. It tastes like nothing else!

  11. says

    I am not fimillar with ramps. Could you give me the low down on how they taste? I am from Australia that’s why>_< But I jealous of this pizza right now. I can not picture a more delightful supper or lunch. On sour dough starters, I love mine! I had it for about 6 mouths and have made the best pizza bases. When you get around to cooking with one, I prefer wetter doughs 75% to get the best base rather than ones at 66% baker's percentage. Wonderful post

    • says

      Hi Belinda! They’re kind of a cross between onions and garlic, with a sort of funky, earthy flavor of their own. And I can only imagine how amazing this (or any pizza) would be with a sourdough starter.

  12. steve says

    I discovered an area in the woods across a hay field from my house here in the Berkshires [that's as much location info as I'm going to give you] where there are tons of ramps. So I just take a 5 minute walk to the woods with an empty bag and fill it up whenever I need some. They’re unbelievable!

    • says

      Hehehe, aw, c’mon Steve, can’t you give me the GPS coordinates of your ramp-filled woods? ;) What a great find! I’m still hoping to find some in my parents’ woods next spring. They’ve got to be there, somewhere.

  13. says

    I know a few people who dislike garlic and I just can’t stop thinking how someone can dislike it. And then I read you hating onions :) Wow – is that possible. I used hate raw onions as a child but have warmed up to them. And yes ramps are like the little secret darling produce that you guys have up your area. Even Deb of smitten kitchen wouldn’t resist posting about it. LOVE your pizza.

    • says

      I know, right?? I used to be so indignant about my dislike for onions, but that fussiness has definitely turned into a weird sort of shame. I mean, they’re one of the flavor building blocks and they’re in SO many things. I really need to get over it! I’ve started small by mincing them up into oblivion for certain dishes (like lentils and risotto, which I couldn’t imagine tasting the same without them). Baby steps. :)

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