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Walnut Relish to Put Atop Spring Things

Walnut Relish with Egg | Delightful Crumb

Okay, so my memory of rhubarb and asparagus as magical springtime harbingers that emerge long before everything else and remind a girl that yes, actually, summer comes and life goes on after a frigid winter? NOT INCORRECT. I thought kale was a cold-weather thing! How is it that the root vegetables keep coming? When do we get strawberries and apricots? I’ve forgotten everything I knew about the Midwest!

I exaggerate. This isn’t entirely true. I still remember how to roast rhubarb and go with the flow of the unpredictable temperatures and enjoy a good thunderstorm. And I’m learning new things, too. Ramps seemed difficult to find in the Bay, and I don’t remember their abundance in Michigan circa 2010, but they are here in Chicago, and they are a delight. In my newfound ramp exuberance, I learned that this city is named for ramps. Did you know this? It is believed that “Chicago” is derived from the French pronunciation of the Miami-Illinois tribe’s term for this wild onion, shikaakwa. Fascinating!

While I may be a little cranky about the slow evolution of the spring market, we’ve basically arrived, so clearly I should calm down and enjoy. Early produce, as I think we all know by now, is best enjoyed as simply as possible. The recipe below is what I suggest you put atop your early asparagus and the last of the ramps and the prettiest spring onions. If you’ve got a grill, grill ’em, but roasting works wonderfully, too. Asparagus can be prepared even more simply—all it really needs is a quick blanch. This delicious condiment comes from Abra Berens’ Ruffage. She also has a more acid-forward rendition that skips the eggs, but this makes for a heartier side and is a logical yet surprising combination. Dare I say it is this spring’s answer to my beloved caper-raisin vinaigrette?!

Times are tough, and today, I don’t know what else to say about that. Except that I hope you’re finding your way. I hope you are nourished and comforted. I hope you feel joy in the simple things, like the first spring produce and the laughter of your neighbor’s daughter and the sunshine and persistent, irrational hope for a beautiful future for our children. And if you’re anything like me, moving forward feels a few degrees easier with something delicious on the table. So here’s what I’ve got for that.

Ramps | Delightful Crumb

Pounded Walnut Relish with Hard-Boiled Egg

Adapted from Abra Berens’ Ruffage

Walnut Relish with Egg | Delightful Crumb

1 cup (120 grams) raw walnuts

3 hard-boiled eggs

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup (120 milliliters) olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

To boil the eggs, bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Gently slip in the eggs. Prepare a bowl of ice water while the eggs cook. After 10 to 12 minutes, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, transferring them to the cold water. Allow to cool.

Toast the walnuts in a 350-degree oven or in a toaster oven, until fragrant and lightly browned. Allow to cool for several minutes. While they are still slightly warm, smash the walnuts roughly. (An effective method is putting the walnuts in a ziplock bag and smashing them with a rolling pin or a heavy pan. You could also just chop them, though the texture is ideal when bashed instead.)

Grate the eggs on the largest holes of a box grater.

Combine the walnuts, grated eggs, parsley, lemon zest and juice, olive oil and two big pinches of salt. The walnuts will soak up the olive oil and acidic lemon juice as they cool.

Serve over asparagus, spring onions or ramps (roasted, grilled, blanched, etc.). If it’s lunchtime, an extra half egg atop is entirely reasonable. Leftover relish will keep for a few days, refrigerated in a tightly sealed container.

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