Nowadays, it seems you can get anything, any time of year. Asparagus in January? No problem… probably flown in from Chile. Apples in August? New Zealand. Even "wild" mushrooms aren’t wild. They’re cultivated, and perhaps generously called exotic.
I love spring for so many reasons, but especially for the seasonal spring foods that are truly seasonal. Ramps (wild leeks), for example, are only available in the May.
Ramps taste like a cross between garlic and scallions, with a white bulb and elongated, broad leaves. Like scallions, both the leaves and bulb are edible. I slice the bulbs thinly and sauté them before adding the leaves. I mix them with spring greens for dumplings or with a mix of peas and asparagus and morels for the quintessential spring vegetable mix.
Pickling ramps helps preserve their spring flavor for a few months longer.
Shad Roe is an east coast spring delicacy, also only available in the spring, when the shad leaves the ocean to mate in the fresh waters of the Delaware river. The roe is harvested in “sacs” (or ovaries if you want to be graphic about it). The thin membrane holds together millions of little roe, the size of typical caviar.
But unlike caviar or taramasalta, the roe is fresh, not salted or preserved. The flavor is sweet and earthy (like fresh-water fish) with a mild saltwater taste.
I pan-fried shad roe with the classic garnishes of capers and bacon, and the less classic pickled ramps. I made a sauce with balsamic vinegar, tomatoes (canned from last summer) and butter.
The greens in the background is from the first harvest of my own mesclun. No dressing, but enough other flavors on the plate that it really didn't need anything.