It's amazing what encounters there may be hidden in the recesses of a refrigerator. I found about 9 oz. or so fresh agnolotti pasta stuffed with crimini and portobello mushrooms (I wish there could be a universal spelling for the latter fungi and that we could all just get along). Fresh ravioli of any sort would work too. They hadn't exceeded the expiration date so as I was feeling a bit peckish, I set to work. Baby was out of town, so I was eating for one. Remnants of ramps, the leafy, showier sister of scallions that sends everyone raving around May were also on hand. I thought to make a garlic and ramp olive oil to enrobe the agnolotti, instead of a red or cream sauce.
I started sauteeing the garlic over medium-low heat in a large pan and then added the devilish ramps...
which were unbridled once in the simmering oil, undulating and ballooning! I'd never seen such a reaction, short of my great-grandmother one year at the end of a most enduring Thanksgiving.
Once the ramps settled down and were wilted, I removed them with a slotted spoon and set them along with the garlic on a plate lined with paper towels. The agnolotti were seared at lower heat (flat side down first before flipping over once browned, about 5 minutes per side) with a good heft of grated nutmeg and later, fresh cracked pepper. When they were sufficiently done, I took tongs and carefully placed them in a wooden bowl and grated cheese over them--a salty sheep's milk cheese works well for this. A fistful of fresh spring greens such as watercress, arugula, went into the still warm pan until they too wilted. After that, it was simply a matter of tossing it all together, plating it and topping the dish with a smattering of uncooked greens.
A dry, full-bodied, Californian Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay blend was also taking up too much space in the refrigerator and it ended up very evenly balancing the garlicky ramps, pungent mushrooms, the bitter greens and the salty cheese, that had all just been sitting around awaiting their particular call of duty. It's grand that someone came up with the phrase "Waste not, want not," don't you think?
Try any variation of what you have on hand--and instead of seasonal ramps, consider a mixture of chopped leeks, green onions and shallots and do enjoy!
After weathering a soul-shredding career as a theatrical agent that lasted entirely too long, Mr. Sherwood left his stable of actors from the stage and screen and went on to pursue his literary aspirations. He is currently the dining editor for Next magazine (nextmagazine.com) where he writes a weekly restaurant review column which also features Manhattan's best food and drink recipes from the finest chef's and bartenders on the island. In 2010 he was published in Foodista’s Best of Food Blogs Cookbook. He toiled as web editor for industry leader Interior Design magazine for several years and has also written for New York magazine, Travel & Leisure and Woman’s Day.
A proud graduate of the University of New Hampshire, one of the nation’s top drinking schools, Mr. Sherwood also studied voice and theater abroad at Regent’s College, in London’s historic Regent’s Park, and at the Royal Academy of Music. He spent a year at Hunter College in Manhattan.
Mr. Sherwood recently published his first novel, the pale of memory, available on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and iUniverse.com. He is in the midst of writing a second.
Twitter/tweet/twat him @kaleidabox