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Eat and Drink

Spring food and recipes from celebrity chef Marc Murphy: Ramps, nettles and more

Chef Marc Murphy is well-known for his role on the Food Network show "Chopped," but he's also the owner and chef behind three popular New York City restaurants: Landmarc in the Time Warner Center, Ditch Plains and Kingside.

We met Murphy and his Chef de Cuisine at Kingside Steve Eakins at the Union Square Greenmarket on April 18. Spring produce was just starting to appear. (Ramps, too.)

"Seasonality is everything," said Murphy. "When I started cooking in New York, Americans were so used to having anything and everything [when they wanted it]. The needle is going the other way."

Here's what we found at the market, and Murphy's ideas for how to use them in dishes at home:

Baby shallots

Baby shallots taste like a milder, more chive-like
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

Baby shallots taste like a milder, more chive-like version of the adult shallot. They can be used interchangeably, and are delicious in salads or sauteed. Murphy says with something so fresh, he'd lightly cook them with mushrooms and English peas and serve them as a side dish.

French breakfast radishes

Radishes don't always bring to mind thoughts of
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

Radishes don't always bring to mind thoughts of spring, but young baby radishes, especially the French breakfast varietal, are mild and tender, unlike the more bitter late-season radishes. Murphy says he likes to cook them in butter.

Wild dandelion

Wild dandelion greens (yes, they are the greens
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

Wild dandelion greens (yes, they are the greens of the flowering weed) are slightly bitter and can be foraged around the city and region. Murphy likes dandelion greens with an anchovy vinaigrette.

"Bangin'!" he said.

Marc Murphy's warm anchovy vinaigrette

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 olive-oil packed anchovy fillets, chopped

Pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over low heat until simmering. Add the shallots and anchovies and cook, stirring, until the shallots have softened and the anchovies fall apart and dissolve in the oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, until it has reduced slightly, about 1 minute. Whisk in the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil.

Stonecrop

Stonecrop is a type of edible succulent. Best
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

Stonecrop is a type of edible succulent. Best eaten raw, it has a mild flavor that is almost like cucumber. Try it in salads. This one, from Lani's Farm, was new to Murphy.

Ramps

Ah, ramps. The harbinger of spring that sends
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

Ah, ramps. The harbinger of spring that sends foodies everywhere into a tizzy. Ramps are wild onions that grow in valleys and along riverbanks from New England south through the Appalachias and they are only available for a short window of time. They can be cooked every which way -- sauteed, roasted, pureed, mixed with butter and much more. Murphy lightly roasted them with morel mushrooms and English peas and served the spring mix with steaks at home on a recent night. They are also used in special menu dishes at his restaurants.

Stinging nettles

This flowering leafy green must be cooked because
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

This flowering leafy green must be cooked because "they don't feel good going down" if they aren't, said Murphy. Stinging hairs line the stems and the leaves of the plant. Exciting! Eakins blanches the nettle leaves and purees them before serving on top of pasta in a pesto-like sauce at Kingside.

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