Ramps! Green garlic! Peas!
The farmers' market has been very exciting lately. All of my favorite spring veggies are available, and because I wanted them all at once, they all had to go in one dish. I know, I know, all you hear about is ramps these days. But isn't there a reason? They are onion-y and garlicky, but so delicately, and still maintain a brightness that other alliums just don't have. And, their super short season makes them all the more desirable - we all want what we can't have! BUT, we can have it today. When my husband is out of town, I get to go crazy on the veggie dishes - I don't hear in the background "but I need a protein blah blah blah". (I mean, don't get me wrong - I miss him. I just also love to have entirely vegetarian meals.)
I made cauliflower steaks the center of this dish - cauliflower was capable of holding down this dish with little flavor intrusion, and could act as the perfect backdrop for all the crazy bright allium springiness that was about to unfold. Ramp-pea-meyer lemon pesto! Green garlic yogurt sauce! And turmeric-sumac chickpeas and simple roasted cauliflower brought the earthiness that those bright zesty elements needed. I loved this dish and I hope you do also!
ramp-pea-meyer lemon pesto
1/2 lb ramps, cleaned with root ends cut off
1/2 lb spring peas, shelled
1 meyer lemon
1/2 cup pinenuts
1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
green garlic yogurt sauce
2 green garlic stalks, using white and pale green parts
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt (european style if possible)
2 heads of cauliflower
1/2 cup olive oil
1 meyer lemon
1 can chickpeas, drained and dried
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp sumac
Preheat oven to 400. Trim ends off of cauliflower and cut down the center into two halves. You should have four halves in the end. Drizzle with olive oil, and then sprinkle generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Squeeze meyer lemon all over cauliflower. Place in the oven for 40 minutes total, but check about 20 minutes in. Drizzle with a little more olive oil if it seems dry, and turn steaks over if they are browning fast. Ultimately, you want them charred and browned in places, but not black!
Toss dried chickpeas with olive oil until coated. Place on baking sheet, and stick in oven at same time as cauliflower. Toss chickpeas at same time you are turning cauliflower, about 20 minutes in. Cook for another 15 minutes. 5 minutes before they are completely done (meaning they are getting pretty crispy), toss with turmeric and sumac. (You will bake the chickpeas for about 35-40 minutes total).
Meanwhile, blanch the peas in boiling water. (Place in boiling water for 1 minute, and then place in an ice bath - this helps it retain a bright green color). Do this again with the ramps and green garlic. Lightly toast pinenuts in a dry skillet, stirring frequently for 2 minutes or so, until lightly browned (careful, these burn easily!). Blend blanched peas with blanched ramps, zest from the meyer lemon, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and half the juice of the lemon. Add olive oil as well. You should end up with a chunky paste. Add more olive oil if you'd like a smoother consistency, and more salt to taste.
Green garlic sauce.
Blend blanched green garlic with yogurt, and a big pinch of kosher salt. That's it!
Place the cauliflower steaks on a plate, and drench generously in green garlic sauce. Top with pesto and chickpeas for a delicious & satisfying meatless meal!
Serves 2 as a light main course, or 4 as an appetizer/side dish.