Making a paella has turned into an Easter tradition in my family. I don’t know when or how it came about. All I know is I look forward to it every year.

Our Easter Sunday this year included Katie and Matt (who had just taken an overnight bus back from New York…he’s a trouper). We decided it was just barely warm enough to grill the paella outside at my mom’s house.

Matt and I have been experimenting with vegetarian paellas lately with great results. While I’ll never say no to a seafood paella, a good vegetarian one is delicious in its own right. We really took the vegetarian paella to another level on Sunday by making it a ramp paella. With a lot of ramps.

I almost cleaned Whole Foods out of ramps (sorry if anyone went to the Alewife Whole Foods looking for them after me!). We sauteed the bulbs instead of onions in the beginning, and added ramp leaves to the rice when adding the broth. We also set aside some of the whole ramps for grilling and placing on top at the end.

Just to be absolutely sure we didn’t miss the chorizo and seafood that’s in a traditional paella, I grilled shrimp and chorizo skewers to round out the meal.

Ramp Paella

I don’t usually measure out the ingredients when I make paella because it depends on how many people I’m making it for and the size pan I’m using. This is more a technique than a recipe. Sorry.

  • 1 lb. ramps, cleaned
  • Short grain rice (a Spanish paella rice like Bomba is ideal, but we just used arborio this time)
  • Vegetable broth
  • Large pinch of saffron
  • 2-3 dried Nora peppers
  • Smoked paprika
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Frozen peas, defrosted
  • Frozen Italian flat beans, defrosted
  • Salt
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • Allioli, for serving

Set aside 12 whole ramps and split the rest into bulbs and leaves. Finely chop the bulbs.

Meanwhile, heat about a cup of the broth and add the saffron. Let it steep until ready to use.

Brush the whole ramps in a little bit of olive oil and season with a little bit of salt. Grill until the leaves just start to char. Set aside for later.

Heat a large swig of olive oil over medium-high heat on the paella pan. Set the remaining broth on a grill-proof pot on the grill and keep hot.

Add the ramp bulbs to the olive oil. Season with salt and saute until soft but not browned.

Crumble the dried peppers into the mixture.

Skipper was very intrigued the whole time.

Add some smoked paprika. We added a lot.

Add some canned tomatoes. My mom was lucky enough to have some yellow tomatoes on hand that her neighbors had canned for her last summer. We used about half of this jar. Cook until most of the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated

Add the saffron infused broth. (Don’t mind my mimosa that snuck into the picture. I was multitasking.)

After a couple of minutes, add the rice. I used to try to figure out how much rice and liquid to use for certain size paella pans. At some point, I just started eyeballing it instead. I try to coat the pan at least, and not put too much in knowing that it will at least triple in volume (not including the vegetables).

Stir the rice until it is hot and the liquid is evaporated. Season with some more salt, but be careful with the salt if your broth is salty. (I have made this mistake before!)

At this point, add the broth. You will want to add a lot, but you can still add some later. We added enough so the rice was covered in about a half inch of broth.

We also added the ramp greens at this point.

When the ramp greens were wilted, we added the peas and flat beans.

Now just leave it alone and let it cook. We kept the heat around medium-high, perhaps a little closer to high. Because the grill wasn’t big enough to really fit the paella pan, we rotated the pan every couple of minutes to keep it even.

Perfect time to play with skipper!

We ended up adding a little more broth than we put in originally. A great way to check the rice for doness is to carefully dig in with a spoon and grab some grains of rice from the bottom middle of the paella pan. When the rice there is done, the paella is done. If it seems crunchy and there’s no liquid left at the bottom, add more broth.

When the paella is still on the grill but just about finished, scatter the grilled whole ramps somewhat evenly over the top.

And there you have it. We made a lot of paellas last summer and some turn out better than others. This was definitely one of the best!

I served the paella with a wedges of lemon and some allioli I had made.

Look at that socarrat!

Using the three different types of cooked ramps – sauteed bulbs, wilted leaves, and grilled whole – gave the dish great textures and a multi-dimensional ramp flavor. I usually use ramps in simple dishes like eggs and pasta with olive oil and garlic, but the paella flavors of saffron and paprika actually complement the ramps beautifully.

Shrimp and Chorizo Skewers

Spanish chorizo (cured)
Smoked paprika

Skewer the shrimp and chorizo using two skewers for each. This make it much easier to keep flat and flip on the grill. Season with salt and paprika. Brush with a little bit of olive oil.

Grill on high heat for a couple of minutes on each side, until the shrimp are just cooked. The Spanish chorizo is already cooked, so it just needs to heat through.

These also went really well with that allioli.

What are your Easter food traditions? Any favorite ways to use ramps?

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