Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fiddleheads & ramps

I had a handful of ramps left over from the pickling that I wanted to use up, and I also had a big bag of fiddleheads I wanted to eat before they blackened. Unfortunately, it was Saturday night, and I didn't want to spend hours cooking; Priya was also bogged down by work on the last paper of her grad school. So I knocked together something quick for myself that turned out delicious.

For the ramps, I figured I'd make a sort of perversion of bucatini all'amatriciana, inspired by the delicious-looking pasta-and-ramps dish over at I8NY. I'd seen a lot of recommendations to saute ramps in bacon fat, but I was worried the bacon would overpower the delicate taste of the ramps...so the milder taste of guanciale seemed a perfect complement. I shaved some pieces of guanciale into a pan and sauted them until they gave up some fat. Then I chopped up the roots of the ramps and added a little chopped garlic and stirred them in the guanciale fat a bit. I threw in a chopped heirloom tomato and splashed in a little bit of white wine. Finally, I folded in the ramp leaves and some pecorino and took the pan off the heat to let the leaves wilt and the cheese melt. Stirred up with some perciatelli (which I can't tell from bucatini), it made a great super-simple entree. The ramp leaves were a welcome addition to the porky taste of the guanciale and the bite of the cheese. Mmm!

For the fiddleheads, I steamed 'em and then dumped a sort of tadka made out of olive oil, garlic, and salt over the whole business. I'd heard from Lena via Priya that fiddleheads could be toxic if improperly cooked, but I've made them several times (and eaten raw dilled, pickled fiddleheads) and never had a problem. Poking around online, I learned that there is indeed an unidentified toxin of some sort that appears to be in raw fiddleheads, so I cooked mine a little more than I would've preferred and didn't think about it again.

2 comments:

-puck- said...

Most likely any toxic effect comes from improper washing. I've read (in "On Food and Cooking" I think) that some asian fern varieties are pretty toxic, and if are used for fiddleheads, could cause problems.

onno david said...

Yum, that looks sooo delicious. I'd never heard of fiddleheads and ramps before so I googled them. The fiddleheads look familiar but we call them something different across the pond..I can't for the life of me remember what though! thank you for shearing your post.