Ramp and Shrimp Grits

Ramp and Shrimp Grits
Serves 4 to 6
-Alex Lefebvre, Board Member
 
I love to eat foraged food.  In the spring, our house fills up with ramps, fiddleheads, nettles, and yes, dandelions.  This recipe is a family favorite from The Wild Table by Connie Green.  Make the ramp pesto ahead and this dish comes together quickly. 
1 pound medium or large shrimp, shells on
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup quick cooking grits
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup of ramp pesto
2 tablespoons of creme fraîche
2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives (1/2 inch pieces)
Peel and devein the shrimp, saving the shells.
Place the shrimp shells in a medium saucepan.  Add the white wine, shallot, and 4 cups of cold water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a bubbling simmer and cook for 20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the shells steep in the liquid for 10 minutes.
Strain the liquid into a 4 cup measuring cup and discard the shells.  Add enough cold water to make 4 cups.  Place in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add 1 teaspoon of the salt, and bring to a boil.  Whisk in the grits, bring to a boil, then cover and cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until creamy.  Hold in a warm place while you cook the shrimp.
Place the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  When the butter is melted and bubbling, add the shrimp, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper.  Toss the shrimp in the butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just pink.  Add the garlic and finish cooking, another 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice.
Stir the ramp pesto into the grits, then stir in the creme fraîche.
Divide the grits between 4 to 6 bowls and top with the shrimp.  Garnish with the chives. 
Ramp Pesto
Makes 1/2 cup
 
1/2 pound ramps with greens, washed, root ends trimmed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Cut the greens off the ramps.  Dice the bulbs into 1/4 inch pieces.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.  Have a bowl of ice water next to the stove.  Drop the greens into the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes.  Lift the greens out of the water with a strainer and plunge them immediately into the ice water.  Drain and squeeze dry.  If they are still moist, roll them up in a kitchen towel and twist the ends tightly to squeeze out all the excess moisture.  Coarsely chop the greens and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the ramp bulbs, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper.  Stir together and cook until the bulbs are tender, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Cool to room temperature.
Please the ramp greens and the bulbs in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times to chop them together, then press continuously for 1 minute.  Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Process for 1 more minute, or until the ramp mixture is very finely chopped.  Add the pine nuts, Parmesan, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and lemon juice and process until smooth.  Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or lemon jounce as needed.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or in the freezer for one month.
Notes:  
Polenta can be substituted for the grits (just make sure they are quick cooking.  If they are not quick cooking you will need 20 to 30 minutes to cook the polenta).
 
Chicken broth can be substituted for the shrimp stock and/or a roast chicken for the shrimp.
 
Basil pesto can be substituted for the ramp pesto.
 
The creme fraîche can be eliminated from the recipe completely.  (It just won’t be quite as decadent.)
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Amherst Food Co-op
A start-up worker- and consumer-owned food co-op in Amherst, MA