From a cultural standpoint, it’s always interesting to see a vegetable going in and out of style (remember that Portlandia skit?) Kale was a big one and is still kicking, and, to me, it seems like turmeric root might be the veggie of the moment. And of course, there are ramps – the tender, mildly oniony wild leeks that pop up for a short time in the spring. They’ve been in very popular demand for the past couple of years, so much so it turns out, that there are even concerns of over-harvesting.
I grew up with a different kind of culture of demand for wild foods, one based on complete necessity. If one had to search for any positive consequences of the Soviet Union food deficit, a forced benefit was that it enabled people to see the land as a source of nourishment. During my childhood, foraging and growing your own food was completely mainstream. If you wanted to taste a tomato in the winter, you grew and pickled it in the summer, otherwise you would not have any tomatoes until the next season.
Early spring was defined by trips to the woods to forage for ramps and morel mushrooms. I remember the forest floor still being very damp from the recently melted snow. There wasn’t much green sprouting yet, which made it easier to locate the cheerful, bright tops of ramps. We gathered them very young, with their leaves just peaking out through the carpet of last year’s fallen leaves. At home, we tucked the ramps into sterile jars and pickled them to enjoy during the year ahead.
Since ramps are a treat that we only get to taste once or twice a year, I like to make a meal that centers around them and highlights all their vitamin-loaded spring energy. This flatbread pizza is one of those, and a very simple solution to enjoying that bunch of ramps you picked up at the market.
The spelt flatbread dough recipe I provide here is one of my favorites – basic, made up of few ingredients, but easy to roll and a great blank slate for any toppings. When roasted, ramps become soft and tender inside, with a slight crisp to their leaves, and full of that bright flavor we all crave during this time of year. I’ve also included an optional recipe for vegan garlic creme, which you can drizzle across the pizza, but feel welcome to garnish with crème fraîche/any cheese of choice, or enjoy plain.
Ramp Flatbread Pizza with Garlic Cream
makes two 10-12-inch pizzas
for the garlic cream
1 cup cashews – soaked in hot water if no high-speed blender
1/2 cup purified water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tamari
1 tablespoon mustard
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon lemon juice
for the dough
2 cups sprouted or whole spelt flour
sea salt – to taste
2 tablespoons soft refined coconut oil or other vegetable oil
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¾ cup water – warm
for the pizza
1 large bunch ramps
1 tablespoon olive oil – divided
sea salt – to taste
freshly ground black pepper – to taste
pinch red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove – minced
baby arugula, microgreens – for serving (optional)
to make the garlic cream
Drain and rinse cashews. Place all of the ingredients into an upright blender and blend until smooth. Keep refrigerated.
to make the dough
1. Place flour into a medium mixing bowl. Add salt, coconut oil and baking soda. Pour apple cider vinegar over baking soda and let it bubble.
2. Pour in warm water gradually, mixing it in with a fork. Knead with your hands to end up with a soft and slightly sticky dough. Divide into 2 equal parts, cover and leave to rest while preparing ramps.
to make the pizza
1. Preheat oven to 395° F (200° C).
2. Cut off and discard the very ends of each ramp, getting rid of any roots and soil. Wash and dry the ramps thoroughly. Separate green leaves from white stems/bulbs with a knife. Place white parts into a bowl, drizzle with half of the oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
3. Prepare a parchment paper-covered tray large enough to hold two flatbreads, or two trays. Spread one piece of dough at a time over the parchment paper with oiled hands into a 10-12-inch crust, about 1/8-inch in thickness. Alternatively, use a rolling pin.
4. Divide white stems in two parts and scatter them evenly over the crusts. Bake for 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, drizzle the ramp leaves with the rest of the oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, toss to coat. Equally distribute minced garlic clove over the two crusts. Arrange oiled leaves over the two crusts in layers. Bake for additional 10 minutes, until ramps are just wilted, soft, and a bit crispy at some edges.
6. Let cool slightly. Drizzle with the garlic cream, slice and serve garnished with fresh arugula and/or microgreens.