Although I have a huge weakness for chips and dip, I try not to serve them as cocktail snacks because people simply get too full and it diminishes their enjoyment of the meal I have worked so hard to prepare. I’ll often serve something light but full of flavour to get the tastebuds revved up for the meal ahead so when I saw an intriguing collection of miscellaneous goodies in my Farmers’ Feast challeng basket last week, I quickly knew what I’d like to pull together. With a plate of spicy pickled carrots from Rochon Garden along with quick-pickled ramps and green onions, I knew I’d have a tangy taste treat for my next gathering. Then I decided to add in some freshly-popped cobs of popcorn from Acorn Creek Garden Farm, seasoned with a few generous splashes of hot sauce from Chamomile Desjardins. As you have likely guessed, all of these products came from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. Below are the recipes for the pickled ramps and green onions. Happy cocktail partying!!
Quick pickled ramps
Wild leeks are one of the forager’s first finds of springtime. Characterized for their tender green leaves and a white bulb, they are usually referred to as ramps and are a fleeting delight, given that their season is very short, although pickling has become a very popular way to extend the enjoyment of them. This recipe is adapted from one by David Chang, known for his wildly successful Momofuku restaurant empire. If you can’t find peppery-tasting Japanese seven-spice powder, Chinese five-spice would be a tasty substitute.
- 1 bunch young wild leeks (ramps)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Japanese seven-spice powder
- Trim the roots off the bulb ends of the ramps. Wash well in cold water, removing any dirty or bruised outer layers. Trim off any coarse or discoloured leaves.
- Combine the vinegar, sugar, water and seasonings in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring, until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
- Gently put the ramps into the pot. Let sit on the heat for three minutes, prodding gently with a wooden spoon to be sure all sections of the ramps are immersed briefly.
- Remove from heat and then extract the ramps from the brine with tongs or your fingers, pulling them out by the bulb ends.
- Coil the ramps into a canning jar (a widemouth 1 cup / 250 mL is the perfect size). Pour the brine over top and let cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, refrigerate the pickled ramps.
The ramps will be ready to eat in 24 hours and can be stored in the fridge for several months.
- For longer storage, follow safe hot water bath canning practices.
Makes one jar.
Quick Pickled Green (Spring) Onions
Like tender ramps, spring onions have a mild flavour that is ideal for pickling. Reminiscent of pickled cocktail onions, these pickles are great as-is, or ideal for adding to sandwiches as well.
- 1 bunch green onions
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) fresh dill
- 1 1/3 cups (340 mL) white vinegar
- 2/3 cup (180 mL) water
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) white sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) whole black peppercorns
- Wash the green onions, removing any discoloured layers. Trim off the root ends of the bulbs.
- Stand the green onions up (bulb ends down) in a 2 cup (5o0 mL) canning jar and trim the green onion tops to just barely fit in the jar. Poke the dill sprigs around the onions.
- In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Bruise the coriander and pepper using a mortar and pestle or the bottom of a mug and add spices to the pot.
- Heat, stirring often, until mixture is boiling and sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Pour hot brine over the onions and put a lid on the jar, squashing the onion tops down into the jar as you do so. Shake the jar a few times to distribute spices.
- Let cool at room temperature then refrigerate for up to 2 months. The onions will be ready to eat in 48 hours.
Makes 1 jar.