this year in Minnesota , the winter was so long that it postponed the growth of green things. When the mushrooms started to appear, they were late. When I was out hunting the other day, I discovered chicken mushrooms growing, which is a bit strange since we still have spring vegetables around. There is always a bit of overlap in Minnesota, but I had never cooked fresh ramps and chicken of the woods together in the same dish. Nature does as she pleases though, all we get to do is watch what happens.
In the spring, when plants begin to grow, I tend to eat lots of green food. One of my favorite dishes to make is just all of the green stuff I can find, quickly wilted with some ramps, a bit of lemon, oil and salt. I like to call it the “bowl of green” For a little variation and color, the chicken of the woods make a great addition.
This is one of those recipes that is really versatile and adaptable, just take some green stuff and throw it in a pan, what you use is up to you. I don’t think I’ve ever made this the same way twice.
Chicken of the Woods with Spring Vegetables, Ramps, and Chive Blossoms.
Serves two as a side or light lunch
- 1/4 cup asparagus chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup fiddlehead ferns (blanched in boiling salted water, and then shocked in ice water before adding to the pan)
- 1/2 cup young chicken of the woods mushrooms, trimmed of any tough end, then leaves sliced into 1/2 inch slices
- 1/4 cup english peas (you can use frozen-if you do, don’t add them until right at the end or they will turn brown)
- 1 cup cleaned wild greens like pigweed or ramp leaves, lightly packed
- 2 tbsp sliced or chopped ramp bulbs
- 1 tsp picked chive blossoms, to garnish
- A nice squeeze of fresh lemon at the end
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 2 tbsp flavorless oil for sauteing
- Heat the oil in a wide saute pan or cast iron skillet on medium heat with the ramps and cook until they sizzle for a minute, add the chicken mushrooms and season with a pinch of salt and cook for a minute more.
- Next add the asparagus, peas, and fiddleheads, and cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Next add the greens and cook until they are wilted. I like to put a lid on the pan to wilt them quickly.
- When the greens are wilted, check the asparagus to see if it is as tender as you like, then finally check the seasoning and balance things out with salt and pepper if needed.
- Arrange the food on two warmed plates, sprinkle with the chive blossoms and a squeeze of lemon. Serve immediately.