Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ramp and Sausage Risotto

I can't get enough ramps. From the time these delectable wild leeks appear at the farmers' market until they all-too-quickly disappear, I don't miss an opportunity to pick up a bunch. And although there isn't anything I've made with ramps I haven't scarfed down with great relish, this is far and beyond the best ramp dish I've made (and perhaps one of my favorite things I've ever cooked). I love each of these sumptuous ingredients on their own, but the magical combination of Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese, and ramps is enough to make an unconscious smile appear on your face with very bite. Risotto is often though of as only a rich, indulgent dish with no nutritional value, but if you're willing to invest some extra time (and broth), this dish can be made with brown rice instead of white. The brown rice not only adds whole grains to this meal but a wonderful nutty flavor that plays beautifully with all the luxurious, savory ingredients. If you have the opportunity to make only one ramp recipe, I can't offer up a better choice than this one. The perfect date night dish, all this needs to be a complete romantic meal is a salad, glass of wine, and your sweetheart.

Ramp and Sausage Risotto
adapted from Bon Appetit
serves 4

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 pound hot or sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
12 ramps, trimmed; bulbs and slender stems sliced, green tops thinly sliced
1 cup arborio rice (or brown rice if you have extra time)
1/2 cup dry vermouth
3 cups (or more) low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for passing

1. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add sausage. Cook until no longer pink, breaking up with spoon, about 5 minutes. Add sliced ramp bulbs and stems. Saute until almost tender, about 2 minutes. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add vermouth. Simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3 cups chicken broth, 1 cup at a time, simmering until almost absorbed before next addition and stirring often.

2. Continue cooking until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy, adding more broth if dry and stirring often, about 18 minutes. Mix in green tops and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing additional grated cheese separately.

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