Apr 25, 2011

Quinoa pilaf with ramps, artichokes and peas

With ramps in season, it’s time to act fast – and this quinoa with baby artichokes and ramps is the perfect showcase for them.

My friend and co-worker Jenna didn’t seem to think she’d like quinoa, and she had never heard of ramps. So rather than trying to talk her into cooking them herself, I brought some of my leftover pilaf to the office. After a few bites of this light and super springy dish, she couldn’t stop talking about how light and flavorful it was. I had made a quinoa and a ramp lover out of her in one fell swoop! And being somewhat of a health fanatic, Jenna was excited to learn that quinoa is a complete protein.

For a delicious variation on this recipe, try using asparagus instead of artichokes (but steam it separately and add to the quinoa just before serving).  You can also use more ramps than I’ve called for here….it depends on how much of a fan you are.

Some people would call this kind of dish “quinoa risotto.”  Sorry, I don’t really buy quinoa as a risotto grain. Barley or farro risotto, I get that.  But quinoa is a different animal – actually, it’s a seed – so I’m calling this a pilaf.

In any case, I hope you’ll run to the nearest farmer’s market this week and snap up some ramps. You don’t want to have ramp regret come June, now do you?

Spring Quinoa Pilaf with Ramps, Artichokes and Peas

1 bunch ramps (about 15-20)
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, halved
10 baby artichokes
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
2 cups quinoa, well rinsed (unless you use a pre-rinsed variety)
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
3 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup fresh shelled or frozen peas
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut the green ramp leaves off the stems, and chop the stems. Bring a pot of water to boil. Drop in the ramp leaves and blanch for about one minute. Drain and puree in a food processor with the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley and 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil. Set aside until needed.

Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a large bowl of cold water, and throw the squeezed lemon halves into the water, too.

Peel away the tough outer leaves of the baby artichokes, until just the more tender light green leaves are left. Cut off the top 1/2 inch from the artichoke and trim the stem of any tough-looking parts. Quarter the artichokes and put them in the lemon water while you start the risotto.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy saucepan. Drain the artichokes from the lemon water and sauté them for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped ramp stems and cook 5 minutes more. Add the quinoa and sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the wine and fresh thyme, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add the broth; bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the peas and simmer another 4-6 minutes, stirring often. (The quinoa should be almost soft but still have a bit of a crunch. You should see a little white ring separating from each grain.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in ramp puree and serve.

Serves 6 as a main dish, or 8 as a side dish

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Min at Honest Vanilla.

I hope you’ll Like, Tweet or StumbleUpon this post using the handy buttons below. Gracias.

See more recipes: Entrees, Gluten-free, Vegan


  • jenna

    It was delicious! It is still the best tasting dish I have had in a long time. Simply amazing Cath-so flavorful and light, a much better option to brown rice. Now, the hard part, I have to try to make this myself!

  • Sounds like a great spring dish! I’d love to get my hands on some ramps!

  • Rike

    Kathy, what is the difference between a grain and a seed? Isn’t grain a seed, also?
    And I have never heard of ramps. What are they?

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Rike, thanks for asking. I think a grain and a seed are two different things. Quinoa is actually the seed of a green vegetable, similar to chard. And ramps are a type of wild leek. Here is some info. for you: http://theforagerpress.com/fieldguide/aprilfd.htm

  • Janet

    I’ve never seen ramps out here, would regular leeks work?

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Hi Janet! I read that Far West Funghi at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market has them on Saturdays, so if you’re ever down that way you could find them. But if I didn’t have leeks, I might try a combination of leeks, shallots and/or chives and more parsley.

  • Gorgeous dish and photo! Ramp regret is something I wouldn’t wish for my worst enemy.

    Wonderful meeting you at Camp!

  • Rike

    Thanks, Kathy. Ramps really sound enticing, but I have a feeling that I won’t stumble upon any here in Arizona!

  • It looks more like a pilaf than a risotti – its doesn’t have that ‘melted’ quality, where the rice is all softened – that risotto would. Your dish looks quite delicious – and healthy – and I’m perfectly in love with ramps right now. Add some baby artichokes – I wouldn’t be able to resist!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Joyti, I hope you make and enjoy the pilaf. Thanks so much for commenting!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Rike, if you don’t have ramps there you could use another kind of pesto and it will still be great!

  • this pretty much screams Spring!! Love all the green in the dish.

  • You hit the nail on the head when you said this was the essence of spring. I looooove ramps! We’re hosting an online seasonal potluck and March is artichoke month. If you’d like to link up your recipe, we’d love to have you http://bit.ly/zRfNjo

Leave A Comment