Classic Mediterranean Flavors, Enlivened by Ramps

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Lamb chops sautéed with ramps, lemon, anchovies, capers and olives.

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Karsten Moran for The New York Times

In the Mediterranean pantry, olive oil reigns. Black and green olives in varying hues and sizes abound. Capers, the pickled flower buds of a wild vine, are a constant, too, at the ready with their briny, floral scent. Most cooks in the region use anchovies, preserved in salt or oil, in their daily cooking, in whole fillets, chopped or pounded in a mortar. Wild thyme, rosemary and oregano are the herbs of choice, and garlic is a given.

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Tender rib chops or bone-in loin chops make an elegant rendition, but steaks cut from the leg or shoulder are fine.

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Karsten Moran for The New York Times

These few ingredients, in one combination or another, can flavor hundreds of dishes. A pizza or pasta may employ them all, with or without tomato, or they may be added to a stew. They could be the basis for chunky vinaigrette, to be spooned over steamed asparagus or grilled swordfish. Or, simmered with a splash of white wine and broth, they may wind up as a sauce for steaks, chops or chicken. Lamb chops are especially well suited for such a sauce.

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Wild spring ramps, center, give an earthy twist to staples of the Mediterranean pantry: olives, anchovies, capers and rosemary.

Credit
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

I love garlic, but this time of year, since wild spring ramps are appearing at greenmarkets on the East Coast, I use them instead. Ramps, a kind of wild leek, have a rather pungent garlicky demeanor, and it’s fun to include them in this otherwise traditional mix. They provide an earthy, aromatic twist. I chop the white bottoms of the ramps in…

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