Many agree that ramps are one of the most delicious spring food gifts that nature brings us! They have a light, mild onion-garlic flavor that makes for perfect pairing with other fresh garden delicacies of early spring.
Storage and Preparation
Ramps should be stored in the refrigerator uncleaned. Wrap them first in a paper or cloth towel and slide into a loose plastic bag. Make sure both the leaves and bulbs are wrapped in the towel. They’ll keep this way for 3-5 days.
When ready to use, be sure to rinse! Submerge ramps in cool water and swish around thoroughly to remove any grit. They often are harvested when the ground is muddy- watch especially for hiding grit in the folds and crevices where the leaves meet the stem.
Before cooking, slip off the thin outer layer of skin from the stem and then trim the root end.
Tips for using ramps
Both the leaves and the bulbs are edible. Use in dishes like you would onion and garlic; just think of them as the elegant, understated, “calm” cousin. That being said, you don’t need to use much to enjoy their flavor, so go easy on quantity until you get to know them. They are milder when cooked.
Since their season is extremely brief, be sure to savor every magnificent morsel by choosing recipes and methods where they’ll really shine such as:
Saute the ramps in a little butter and/or olive oil along with a few morels, scoop onto grilled meat, and top with a pile of watercress. Each year my husband exclaims some variation of: “now this is what I call living large!” when we have this for a much anticipated, very special spring meal.
Grill or roast whole ramps that have been brushed lightly with olive oil until just slightly charred.
Chop and sauté in butter, and add to scrambled eggs or an omelet or frittata along with goat cheese- alone or with herbs and other spring vegetables like spinach or asparagus.
Stir-fry chopped ramps with sesame oil, ginger, and soy sauce; sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over. Serve with rice and other vegetables of your choice.
Finely mince and add to softened butter or cheese for a wonderful spread on biscuits, baguettes, crackers
Add snipped ramp leaves to a stir fry, soup, or salad
Make a ramp pesto and toss with pasta (Saute approx. ½ - ¾ c. minced ramp bulbs and stems for 1-2 minutes, add a good handful of ramp leaves and saute another minute. Process in blender or food processor with approx. ¼ c. walnuts, almonds or pine nuts, ¼ - ½ c. grated parmesan, and ¼ c. olive oil- adjust cheese, and add more oil as desired to get consistency to your liking—or add a little of your pasta cooking water to thin)
Some notes from CSA members who found creative and delicious ways to use their ramps in past years:
“I sauteed ramps with spinach, and then cooled them before adding to chopped-up watercress. Then I stirred altogether into yogurt and mayo with lemon zest and juice for a vegetable dip as an afternoon snack. Yum!”
“We LOVE our ramps! I made a small batch of pesto utilizing the bulbs and the stems —Wowza! Thanks to the farmers for gathering these treasures for us!”
“I made some quick pickled ramps that I’m going to use for our Bloody Mary’s!
I trimmed and cleaned the long stems and bulbs, then put them (bulb side down) into a quart jar. Into a saucepan I combined: 1 c. water, 1/2 c. vinegar, 1/3 c. sugar, 2 Tbsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. each of juniper berries and whole allspice, then brought it all to a boil, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. I poured it over the ramps, allowed it to cool, then refrigerated. If my past pickling experience holds true, they should be ready for us to enjoy at our neighborhood deck party in early June! I’ll try not to be too much of an ‘I’ve got access to super cool food’ show-off!”
“We chopped up our leftover ramp leaves and added them to a batch of kimchi. It turned out amazing! Next we’re going to try pickled ramps, making a brine with peppercorns, chili flakes, and mustard, coriander, and fennel seeds. Can’t wait!”
Liz Talley, Urban Graze
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