Fiddleheads.  Morels.  Ramps.  As enchanting as they are fleeting, these are the true seasonal vegetables.  They defy cultivation, drawing foragers out into the woods, on hands and knees, searching for signs of life among the leaves.  My hunting ground is more farm stand than forest, but a chance encounter quickens the pulse just the same.

Ramps, or wild leeks, belong to the onion family but taste more like garlic.  The creamy, white bulb, slender, reddish neck, and long, silky leaves are all edible.  You can grill, roast, saute, or even pickle them, or just eat them raw (be careful not to over-indulge, or others will be able to smell you coming for days).

I wasn’t planning on making pizza when I spotted the ramps this weekend, but with potatoes and cheese already in my basket, it seemed like just the thing.  The thin, crispy crust and delicate, yet substantial, toppings need no sauce.  As good at room temperature as it is hot, this pizza travels well and makes an elegant picnic lunch.  Make a salad of blanched asparagus and orange segments in a lemon vinaigrette, pack a bottle of sparkling wine, and keep your eyes to the ground — you may discover something worth bringing home for dinner.

White pizza with potatoes and ramps

Yield:  2, 12-inch, thin-crust pizzas

3 small, red potatoes

4-6 ramps, trimmed of their roots and chopped into 1-inch pieces (or 4 scallions, sliced thin)

Olive oil, for brushing

1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (or use crushed red pepper for a little heat)

1 recipe semolina pizza dough

At least 1  lb. thin asparagus (for a side dish, if you like)

Place potatoes in a small saucepan and add cold water to cover.  Add a generous sprinkling of salt and bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower heat and simmer until just tender, 10-15 minutes.  Drain.  When cool enough to handle, slice thinly and set aside.

Blanch ramps in boiling, salted water for 30 seconds (if you’re using scallions, keep them raw).  Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water, then drain and squeeze gently to remove excess water.  Set aside.  (I blanch my asparagus — it takes only a minute or two, if they’re thin — in the same boiling water I used for the ramps).

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Stretch your pizza dough to desired dimensions and thickness.  Place on an oiled or cornmeal-dusted, rimmed pizza pan or baking sheet (or preheat a baking stone, if you have one).  Lightly brush the top of the crust with olive oil.  Arrange mozzarella slices on top, then potato slices.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then with ramps and goat cheese.  Bake 12-15 minutes (switch pans halfway through, if you’re making two), or until bottom of crust is nicely crisped and mozzarella is browned and bubbly.

Serve with asparagus, lightly dressed with lemon juice and olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Advertisements