I always try to find ways for kids to try new flavors. Parents often tell me their children keep away from green foods. So when spring comes along, and I'm preparing my classes - and all I I can think of is something green - it can be very challenging. But - I totally get it - as a kid I remember being served my mom's meatballs and running to the bathroom only to flush them down the toilet because it had green leaves in it!
Sometimes you need to get creative....
I am not one to "hide" veggies in a tomato sauce. I would like my kids to know what goes into their food and to understand what they love, don't like, and the reason for each. I find that sometimes you need the help of a pretty and delicious package.
That special envelop can come in a form of a delicious dough, in this case, puff pastry. Who can resist the flaky texture and the buttery flavor??? Puff pastry, or laminated dough is something I have no guilt buying (instead of making at home). It takes days to make and is totally labor intensive, so I try to pick up a pack when I can find the kind I like (the one made with butter) and keep it in the freezer.
Now we get to the green part.... Ramps! Ramps are wild onions, or leeks that grow in the Northeast. They have a small white bulb, a purple pinkish stem and wide green leaves. All parts are edible. I just moved into a new house and found out I have some in the garden, which I am beyond excited about!!!
Anyway, you can use them in any recipe that calls for onions, or scallions. I love making pesto out of ramps and freezing any leftovers to enjoy later in the spring or summer.
I wanted to share the following recipe with you, first because it's delicious, but also because it's fun, and very easy to make with your kids; You can find a job for children as young as two years old.
2 bunches of ramps, around 3 cups chopped, roots not included
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-3/4 cup grated parmasan cheese
1/2 cup toasted nuts or pumpkin seeds (optional)
For the pastries:
3/4 - 1 cup ramp pesto
1 sheet prepared puff pastry, thawed in fridge if bought frozen
1 egg beat with 1 tablespoon water or milk or egg wash
Mezzaluna - optional
Rolling pin and flour to roll out the dough
Sheet pan and parchment paper
A spoon to spread the pesto
Small bowl and basting brush
Before the kids come into the kitchen you might like to:
Roll out the dough and perhaps cut into smaller rectangles so that every child has their own dough to work with.
Break the egg into a small bowl.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Make the pesto: have the kids tear up the ramps into smaller pieces, or it's a good opportunity for kids to chop using a mezzo luna. Place all the pesto ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth. taste and add more cheese or salt, as needed. I like to explain exactly how the food processor works, and turn it on with nothing inside first to make sure they know what's going on when we push the buttons. When it's being processed you can ask them to see what they noticed, or what changed.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out the puff pastry, using some flour if needed. at this stage you might like to cut the dough into a few rectangles so each child has their own.
Using a back of a spoon, spread the pesto on the dough. Leave out around 1/2 inch at the bottom border.
Roll the dough out: starting at the long end closest to you, roll the dough up tightly into a log. Pinch the seam together at the top. Position the log seam-side down. Cut the dough crosswise into 20-30 pieces, about 0.5 inch thick.
Place the snails on the lined sheet pan, facing up, and reshape in a circle.
Crack the egg into a small bowl, add the water or milk and whisk thoroughly. Using a basting brush cover the snails with the egg wash.
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy fresh. You can also freeze them after they have cooled off and reheat in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.