Tuesday, April 24, 2012
While letting Alec have a bit more driving practice last weekend, we explored some of the North Shore here in the Oyster Bay area. We found a few nice places worth going back to, but one of the most interesting was the Shu Swamp Preserve. Alec and I hiked the northern part of the preserve which had a large observation deck for watching waterfowl and a nice boardwalk section through the swamp. The skunk cabbage was in full glory, very healthy from the mild winter. I found dogtooth violet, solomon's seal, wild oats, and what at first I thought were the leaves of pink lady's slipper. On closer examination I recognized the leaves as ramps, or wild leeks. Pulling one out of the shallow topsoil and leaf litter confirmed my suspicions as the distinctive earthy onion-garlic smell captured our attention. Now, a good rule of foraging is to never obliterate an area of a particular plant. After walking a little farther it became apparent that there were thousands of these gems. We pulled about a dozen in all and headed back to the car.I washed them later that night and stored them in the fridge. The next evening I carefully chopped the heads and sautéed in a bit of olive oil, the I added some broccoli and about half a pound of chicken, cut thin. I let this toss around for about 10 minutes, and then added some fresh pepper, and the tops of the ramps, finely chopped. They have a great garlic flavor, but more delicate. I need more now. The season is short, so grab while you can.