Pressed Skirt Steak Sandwich with Grilled Ramps, Manchego, and Romesco

steak sandwich

It's that time of year again: Ramps are in season. Over the years I've come to love ramps, though at first I wasn't sure I liked them and just went along with the hype. But I soon realized ramps are too unique a vegetable to ignore. Ramps grow in the wild and are available only in the months of April and May. They end up in farmers' markets by way of a forager. It's truly a short-lived springtime delicacy that needs to be enjoyed now.

Ramps can be prepared in many different ways: sauteed, roasted, and even pickled. I've recently come to realize just how good they are grilled. The technique tames their onion-y bite and brings out a natural sweetness, plus the smoky char adds flavor too. Here I serve up the grilled ramps in a pressed sandwich that includes grilled skirt steak, manchego cheese, and the Spanish romesco sauce for the ultimate steak sandwich with a Spanish touch.

In creating this dish, I was inspired by one of my favorite sandwiches at 'wichcraft. The romesco sauce (which includes bread, almonds, tomatoes, and red peppers) adds bold flavor. I like mine thicker than usual—more like a pesto—so that it's easily spreadable. This recipe makes a big batch, which can be frozen in portions for later use. Romesco, a traditional sauce from Catalonia, is enjoyed as a condiment with seafood and sometimes meats. It's also great as a sauce over pasta. So don't let those leftovers go to waste. These sandwiches make a super flavorful meal while ramps are in season.

Pressed Skirt Steak Sandwich with Grilled Ramps, Manchego, and Romesco

Note: Skirt steak should be cooked just until medium-rare, otherwise it becomes tough and inedible. Slice it thinly and diagonally against the grain. If you prefer, flank steak also works.

1 bunch ramps, roots trimmed, bulbs and stems separated
olive oil
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound skirt steak
1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
4 thick slices country bread
romesco sauce, recipes follows
5 ounces manchego cheese, thinly sliced

Heat a grill pan at medium-high to high heat.

Slice ramp bulbs in half lengthwise. Drizzle ramps with just enough oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Grill stems and bulbs separately; stems for 1 minute until wilted and bulbs until soft and slightly blackened with grill lines, about 5 minutes. Remove ramps to a plate. Thinly slice stems.

Trim any fat or membrane from steak. Rub with oil and sprinkle with paprika and season liberally with salt and pepper. Grill 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Rest for 5 minutes. Slice steak diagonally against the grain.

Spread one side of each slice of bread with a spoonful of romesco. Top with slices of cheese. Arrange steak and ramps over top. Press halves together. Lightly brush outside of sandwich with oil. Add sandwiches and grill one side until marked with lines. Carefully flip over, and weight sandwiches with a panini presser or bricks wrapped in foil. Grill until cheese has melted. Remove sandwiches to a board and cut into halves. Serve immediately. Yield: 2 hearty sandwiches.

Romesco Sauce

Note: Leftover romesco sauce can be frozen in an airtight container for up to one month.

olive oil
2 thick slices country bread, cubed
1/3 cup slivered almonds
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
1 8-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Warm a thin layer of olive oil in a skillet. Add bread cubes and toast until golden. Add almonds and garlic, toast until almonds are golden and garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Pour the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Add tomatoes and peppers and blend until pureed. Add extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar, pulse until emulsified. Add sweet and hot paprika, and season with salt and pepper. Pulse to combine. Yield: 2 cups.