Roasted New Potatoes With Ramps & Morels
This recipe, courtesy of Robert Turner, executive chef and general manager of Omega FoodWorks, takes three key elements of spring (the earthiness of new potatoes, the savoriness of morel mushrooms, and the sweet herbaciousness of ramps) and combines them into a dish, not only easy to assemble, but nourishing and delicious.
While some wait around for summer to experience the vibrancy of farm fresh foods, experienced foragers know that by venturing into the forest you can uncover a rarified sampling of all the vitality that spring has to offer. New potatoes are fairly easy to come by (try a local grocery or health food store), but morels and ramps may present more of a challenge to hunt down. Morels are a prized find in the forest, and may cost you upwards of $20 per pound in some specialty stores. If you don't have the means, patience, or locality for foraging morels, you can substitute dried morels or a more common mushroom (e.g. shitake)—but the distinct flavor of a morel is really a singular experience that is worth seeking out. The same goes for ramps, a wild leek that grows in many of the wooded regions of the eastern United States and parts of the upper Midwest, as they differ from scallions or leeks in their relative sweetness and complexity and are worth a trip to the woods to seek out.
Note: As with all food foraged from the forest, it is best to harvest carefully, practicing responsible stewardship and care, and making sure that you are harvesting and consuming wild foods that are accurately identified. There are several foraging guides available to those who are interested.
Brush any debris from morels and cut in half length-wise. Submerge ramps in cool water to wash off debris. Drain and dry. A salad spinner works well for this.
Heat olive oil in heavy bottom sauté pan just to the smoke point. Place one layer of potatoes, cut side down, and sear for 1 minute. Add morels and stir pan. Sauté until hot and shut off heat. Fold in ramps and the residual heat will wilt them.
Season with a good quality salt and enjoy.