Trying to get ahold of ramps this season was, well, trying. I did manage to nab a bunch at the farmers market early on in the season. Because it was so early, their bulbs were tiny and the leaves not so big.
Subsequent passes though the market revealed bigger and better bunches but I always was on my way somewhere that wasn't conducive to dragging these garlicky bunches along with.
Last weekend I finally made a trip solely to secure several bunches to cook and bake with. Unfortunately, only one vendor had them and they were in the form of a sad pile of naked ramp bulbs, stripped of their luscious leaves. Cue the horror show music.
I almost gave up until a friend suggested I try Whole Foods. I skidded into their produce section late that evening just before they closed and there they were, piles of gorgeous ramps with big beautiful bulbs and large elegant leaves. $20 later I headed home clutching my bag of precious cargo.
I suggest, if you can still find them (ramps have a very short season), bake these delicious swirled potato rolls. In this recipe, potato bread dough is rolled out, then slathered with a garlicky homemade ramp pesto and accented with gouda cheese. The cheese suggestion came from the same friend who saved the ramp day with her Whole Food suggestion. Yay for foodie friends.
Ramp Potato Swirl Rolls
Rise time: 40 minutes
Cook/Bake Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 12 rolls
- 1/2 lb potatoes
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 package instant dry yeast
- 2+1/2 cups flour
- pinch of salt
- pinch of white granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup blanched almond leaves
- 1 bunch of freshly picked ramps (about 3+1/2 ounces)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup shredded gouda cheese
- 1 large egg
- Wash the potatoes and boil them for 20 minutes
- Peel while they are still warm, cut in half and push each half through a ricer.
- Heat the buttermilk to a lukewarm temperature and dissolve the dry yeast in the buttermilk.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the all-purpose flour, pinches of salt and white granulated sugar.
- Fit the mixer with a dough hook and add the potatoes and yeasted buttermilk to the dry ingredients.
- Knead the ingredients into a smooth dough.
- Remove the dough from the mixing bowl, transfer to another bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and store in a warm place for 40 minutes to rise. Wash and dry the mixer bowl, fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and replace the bowl.
- Place the blanched almond leaves in a dry frying pan and roast them over a low flame until slightly toasted. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
- Wash the ramps and pat dry. Trim the roots off of the bulb ends. Roughly chop the trimmed ramps into pieces. Transfer the toasted almond leaves and the ramp leaves to a food processor, add the shredded gouda cheese and purée.
- Place the unsalted butter and the pinch of salt in the bowl in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip a few minutes until fluffy.
- Add the chopped ramps, toasted almond purée and mix together thoroughly.
- Taste for bitterness and add a pinch or two more white granulated sugar if the mixture is too bitter for your taste.
- Grease the wells of a cupcake pan and coat each well with all purpose flour, shaking off the excess.
- Remove the dough from its warm place and knead, adding a bit more of all purpose flour. When it becomes, smooth and pliable, roll out the dough into a rectangle shape. If the dough is too sticky, roll it out on top of parchment paper.
- Use a rubber spatula to coat the dough with the ramp, almond mixture leaving an index finger wide frame all around the edges.
- Starting from the long side, tightly roll the dough into a log. Use a sharp knife to cut the log into 12 pieces and fit each piece into the greased wells of the cupcake pan. Cover the pan, store in a warm place for 25 minutes. They will rise slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Beat the egg and use a pastry brush to brush over the tops of each of the rolls. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the rolls become lightly browned.
- Remove the baked swirl rolls from the oven. Let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate or bread basket and serve warm with or without butter.
These swirled rolls not only look pretty on any brunch table but pack a big flavor punch. The potato bread is the perfect accompaniment for the spicy ramp filling.