Traditional roasted salmon gets a jolt from fresh spring ramps, a healthy dose of mushrooms, and a range of herbal notes. Serve it to your best friends or your boss and his wife without a worry in the world. Keep an eye on the cooking times. Ramps are available only in the spring, but you can substitute thinly sliced leeks sliced into 3-inch lengths.
Yield: Serves 8
1 whole side (about 3½ pounds) of salmon, skin removed and trimmed (see Note)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons mixed chopped herbs, such as tarragon, rosemary, and chervil
1 pound cremini, porcini, or other firm mushrooms, or a mix of more than 1 kind, cleaned and sliced ¼ inch thick
6 cups (tightly packed) washed and trimmed chard, spinach, escarole, or a mix of some of the above
1 large ripe tomato, cored, seeded, and diced
½ cup dry white wine
1 package (3.5 ounces) enoki mushrooms, trimmed
1. Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Place the salmon in a lightly oiled flameproof roasting pan that is large enough for the fish to be flat. Rub the top side of the salmon with the remaining oil, herbs, salt, and pepper. Roast the salmon for 8 minutes.
3. Place the ramps on both sides of the salmon and turn them to coat lightly with oil. Continue roasting until the thickest part of the salmon is springy to the touch, about 8 minutes more. (The thinner tail end will be flaky and fully cooked, the thicker end will be cooked to medium.)
4. Using 2 large spatulas, transfer the salmon and ramps to a serving platter, placing the ramps on top of the salmon. Cover with aluminum foil.
5. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the pan drippings. Add the mushrooms to the pan. Return to the oven for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove and place on the stove top. Add the greens, tomato, and wine and cook over medium heat. Stir until the greens are wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the enoki. Surround the salmon with the mushroom mix.
6. To serve, arrange some of the greens on each plate and top them with the salmon and ramps.
Have your fish seller trim the membrane and any bones from along the belly. The pin bones (thin bones which run perpendicular from the skin through the thickest part of the fillet) can be removed with a tweezers or needlenose pliers. After skinning and trimming, the fillet should be about 1½ inches at its thickest point. If more or less than this, adjust the cooking in step 2 accordingly.
Ramps, or wild leeks, are a long-awaited spring pleasure. They shoot up along river banks and in swampy areas in may. The leaves look like lily of the valley, but the slender white stems and full green leaves are packed with a garlicky aroma, which tones down a bit during cooking. You can sometimes find them in farmer’s markets; if not, substitute leeks in recipes calling for ramps. We cook ramps on the grill or let them mingle with roasting juices.
Ramps are by nature muddy, so if you find some, stand them up in a container that drains—like a milk crate—and hose them off. Trim off the roots, loose white layers, and leaves and use the bulbs and stems whole or sliced