Feliz Cinco de Mayo a todo! Perhaps the authenticity of the holiday is a bit suspect as our friends at dinnercraft hint at in a recent post, but really–who doesn’t like an excuse to make delicious Mexican food?
The answer to that question, at least in this household, is no one, leading us to decide in the middle of the Manhattan Fruit Exchange that quesadillas, tacos and salsas would be the perfect dinner to make for our friend E. We grabbed as much produce as we could there and then proceeded to take E on a whirlwind tour of some of our favorite food stores in the city, naturally including a stop at the Union Square Greenmarket, as I mentioned a few weeks ago.
Michael wanted me to try to recreate my three-onion salsa once again, but alas, no spring garlic or green onions were to be found that Saturday. I ended up not needing them anyway because finally, I was able to pick up a few bunches of what is considered among the most prized of spring produce: the ramp. I realize that it’s basically a glorified weed that has been fetishized to the height of absurdity, but honestly, I get the hype around them. More mild than either spring garlic or spring onions–less bitter too–ramps are mellow little things that happily are completely edible once the roots are removed. This allows them to not only represent onions and garlic in a salsa, but also render basil unnecessary when making ramp pesto. That simple delight, however, will be covered later.
Because the salsa the last time around was my creation, I was charged with the task to figure out how to adapt the recipe for ramps. It turned out that not much tweaking was really necessary: the only modification I made was eschewing the red onion and garlic and only including about four scallions. We were out of white balsamic vinegar so I let Michael tweak the acidity (after all, he is a scientist), and presto: a simple salsa verde so good, I had to pry it away from the boys in order to save some for the quesadillas–as well as enjoy some for myself.
Michael took over the kitchen in order to roast the small chicken we purchased at Whole Foods and make guacasalsa to serve with the tacos, relying on his new favorite chipotle rub method to yield juicy and spicy results. If these all seem familiar to you, it’s because they are: when we entertain we tend to rely on recipes that are familiar enough to us that we don’t have to stress out over following a recipe to the letter while we chat with our guests, but if the mood strikes, we may try a new dish–or in this case, a new ingredient.
It should be no surprise that the three of us were stuffed after that, but I didn’t care–I had just come back from nearly a week in Indianapolis, and my craving for home-cooked meals would not be denied. Ramps will likely be around only for this week and then the season will end–if you can, try to get some at your local farmers market or specialty grocery store. You won’t be sorry, I assure you.