All photos except where noted: Kelly Rossiter
I haven’t been to the farmers’ market for a while, but I knew I had to go this week because it seemed like it was just about time for the first wild leeks (also known as ramps) to appear, and I was right. A few years ago wild leeks were all the rage, and as these things go, while not strictly speaking out of fashion, people aren’t as excited about them as they used to be. Unless you live in Toronto. There was a considerable lineup by the time I had purchased my leeks and poor Seth from Forbes Wild Foods hadn’t even had the chance to set up his booth before he was inundated with people clamoring for leeks. While people who hail from more temperate parts of the continent are already enjoying fruits and vegetables, wild leeks are the first thing Torontonians see that hasn’t been overwintered. Out with the celeriac and in with the greens.
You can eat every part of the wild leek, including the roots. I’ve stirfried them, made soup, used them in salads and last night my husband and I had them in a risotto. I’ve roasted the roots to crumble over a dish as a garnish, but also added them to the water when I make vegtable stock. The season for wild leeks is quite short, so we’ll be having them quite a lot in the next few weeks.
1. Rainbow Trout with Wild Leeks
I’m not a fish eater at all, but even I can’t resist fresh rainbow trout from Georgian Bay slathered in wild leeks. The leeks keep the flesh moist and the flavour of the leeks adds a lovely oniony taste as well. You could use this on any white fleshed fish that isn’t too strongly flavoured.
2. Fiddleheads with Wild Leeks, Mushrooms and Artichokes
I always knew that fiddleheads and wild leeks would be great together, but I was surprised when I discovered how good artichokes were with them as well. I used my own marinated artichokes for this recipe, but a jar of pickled artichokes will do the trick.
3. Eggs with Wild Leeks
Just in time for Mother’s Day, here is a treat that is pretty decadent to eat, but really easy to make. I used double smoked bacon for this, but regular bacon, or even pancetta is fine. Cook a few slices of bacon and then add chopped wild leeks and cook until they are translucent. Then slide them over to the side of the pan and add some butter. Yes, I am advocating two sources of fat. I did say it was decadent, didn’t I?. Add the egg and cook until it is at the desired runniness.
4. Wild Leek Pesto
I know you are looking at this photo and thinking that’s pizza, not pesto. Well I used the wild leek pesto as the base for this pizza, rather than tomato sauce. There’s lots of flavour in the pesto, so keep the toppings to a minimum. There aren’t any olives in the recipe, but I added them at the last minute.
5. Ramp Sesame Pancakes with Miso Dipping Sauce
These ramp sesame pancakes with miso dipping sauce make a great snack, or an appetizer for guests. This is one of those things you could make while the kids are sitting at the table and then add more to the platter as they are cooked. And we all know kids love to dip their food.
6. Wild Leek Pasta
Photo: Emma love this game website Alter
I made this wild leek pasta for myself a couple of years ago, and looking at this post I think I might make it for my dinner tonight! The recipe is for one, but it is easily doubled or tripled, depending on how much you want to make. It’s a light and refreshing pasta sauce with lovely hunks of tomato.
7. Savoury Wild Leek Biscuits with Cracked Coriander Seeds
These wild leek biscuits are really simple to make and have a wonderful flavour. When Jaymi over at TreeHugger made them as part of The Cooking Project, she used fennel seeds rather than coriander which would be a terrific substitution.