I love cooking in the spring. It's so wonderful to be able to eat something green and fresh after months of root vegetables. The vegetables that have arrived at my farmers market are so tender, they only take a few minutes to cook. Not only that, the early asparagus and wild leeks are so full of flavor that the simplest treatment is all that is required, and is in fact, preferable to complicated dishes that might mask that lovely spring taste.

I made this very easy braised ramp and asparagus for a light lunch for myself, so I didn't make the whole recipe. I cooked the vegetables in chicken stock, but you can use water for a vegetarian dish. I had some morels from the farmers market, so I added a couple for a little extra spring flavor. Make sure you have some crusty bread to soak up the cooking liquid, which was absolutely delicious. If you don't have ramps, you could try adding some garlic scapes which would also be pretty wonderful.

This recipe is from the wonderful new cookbook "Vegetable Literacy" by Deborah Madison. She has organized the book by 12 different vegetable families and then included recipes in each section. It's jammed with all kinds of information and there are recipes for unusual vegetables such as cardoons, sorrel (one of my own favorites) and salsify. There's nothing fussy about the recipes, just lots of great flavors.

Braised Ramps and Asparagus

Prep time: 5 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 servings


  • 12 cleaned ramps
  • 1 pound asparagus, rinsed, the tough ends trimmed and discarded
  • Pat butter
  • Dash sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock
  • Loafof crusty bread, for serving

Cooking directions

  1. After you've cleaned the vegetables, melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet. It should melt and foam but not brown or burn, so adjust your heat accordingly. Add the ramps and asparagus, season with salt, then add a cup of water or chicken stock. Simmer the vegetables gently, covered, until they have softened and their flavours have mingled, about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus.
  2. Remove the lid, add another tablespoon of butter, and slide the pan back and forth to make a little sauce. Serve with sea salt, pepper, and good crusty bread to mop up any juices.
Braised Ramps and Asparagus
The real beauty of spring — at least from a cook's perspective — is that nature takes care of the flavor for you.