Parmesan Ramp Loaf
When I first moved to New York City, I lived in the Gramercy Park neighborhood. One of my favorite things was to wake up early on Wednesday morning to go to the Union Square green market. A massive farmer’s market that takes up almost an entire city block.
There were a few things that always drew lines: apple cider donuts, peaches and ramps.
Ramps were my absolute favorite.
I had never seen them before, but bought them on a whim and loved them since.
Ramps are wild leeks. They taste like an onion and garlic bulb had a baby. But there is not bite or bitterness that you can get from either onion or garlic. It is a very smooth flavor that is delicious in so many applications. Grill it, make a pesto, pickle it. Really the possibilities are endless.
So I decided to put it in a bread. It can’t be bad.
About those ramps
I buy ramps at my local farm stand, but they are occasionally carried at Whole Foods. They are native to the eastern US and Canada so they might be harder to find elsewhere. If you are able to find ramps, look for leaves that have minimal bruising and aren’t limp. They typically come in a bunch of 6-7. These guys come with a lot of dirt so wash them thoroughly and dry them before adding to the bread. And don’t throw out the ends! If the roots are still attached, snip the ends and place them in a glass of water to let them grow again. Or you can clean, trim and pickle the ends. So good.
If you cannot find ramps, you can use scallions or chives (depending on the strength of onion flavor you like). If you use scallions, use only the green parts of about 3 stalks. If you use fresh chives, use 2 tbsp of chopped chives. If you have dried chives, use only 1 tbsp.
When I was little, parmesan cheese was the only cheese I would eat. I used to eat it straight from the container. I can’t say that I don’t still do that, but I digress. Parmesan cheese has a smooth, savory flavor that is on the saltier side. If you are not a fan of parmesan, you can use asiago, romano or sharp cheddar cheeses. These guys will go well with the onion flavor of the ramps since they have a smoother funk to them and won’t over power the ramp flavor.
I will admit that the reason that I used yogurt mixed with milk was because I did not have buttermilk. Combining yogurt and water was my kitchen hack to make my own buttermilk and it worked perfectly. Buttermilk is basically cultured milk, giving it that tang (aka acidity). Yogurt is cultured, so perfect. I used a grass-fed, whole milk greek yogurt that I mixed with a warm water. I recommend only using full fat yogurt or buttermilk. You get a richer flavor and texture.
If you have buttermilk, you can certainly use that; use 1 cup of buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk or yogurt, use 1 cup of milk with 1/2 tsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice added to it.
1 cup gluten-free measure-for-measure flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
1 bunch of fresh ramps (about 6 in total), washed, dried and trimmed
1/2 cup warm water
1 5.3 oz container full fat greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large eggs
Optional: add 1 cup grated zucchini, wring water out in a kitchen towel
Preheat the oven to 350F and liberally grease a standard loaf pan with olive oil.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cheese, black pepper, baking powder, thyme and chopped ramps. Make sure that ramps are coated in flour.
In a large measuring cup, combine the water and yogurt; whisk until they are combined into what looks like buttermilk. Add the oil and eggs and whisk again until the eggs are incorporated.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together until flour is all mixed in. (If you are using the zucchini, add it after the flour, mixing until evenly distributed).
Scrape batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to coax into the corners and smooth out the top. Sprinkle the top with more cheese and black pepper.
Bake for 55-65 minutes, until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan.
This bread is perfect for brunch, toasted and spread with a little butter.