It’s that time of year when all rational behavior falls by the wayside. Ramps are here. Home cooks and chefs alike elbow each other out of the way in order to return from the market with a few bunches of these highly prized vegetables, triumphant.
Black truffle delicious? Pork belly delicious?
I don’t know if I’d go that far. But they’re pretty fantastic, owing in part to the fact that they’re only around for a brief window in the Spring. Then they’re gone, hidden from view until they can serve as next year’s bright indication that that Spring is back, and that Winter has been banished for 9 more glorious months.
Some of you may be scratching your heads at this point, either never having heard of a ramp, and/or reflecting on your extreme distaste for pork belly. Let’s focus on the first issue, which is the topic of this post. Pork belly will be saved for another occasion when I muster up the confidence to cook it at home.
If I’m to use my Instagram account as a laboratory of sorts, there seems to be a lot of confusion about ramps.
Are they overpublicized and overpriced?
Or are they unsung heroes, with iffy recognition at best? The kind of fame often reserved for cultish authors, who slip by unrecognized by the masses but are adored by a passionate few.
Here are a few of the comments that led to my confusion after I posted a few dishes that contained ramps.
First, there is a large and vocal group of ramp lovers….
- “RAMPS, my fave!”
- “Ramps!!!!” (inclusive of a bright green leaf emoji)
Second, there seems to be a strange sleeper cell of ramp haters….
- “I’m suffering from ramps overload”
Lastly, there are those, with whom many reading this post will identify, who have never laid eyes on a ramp:
- “Wait, what’s a ramp?”
- “Are those ramps?”
- “How have I never heard of these?”
Because educating the ramp unaware population is far more critical than appeasing the (likely) minority of (ornery) ramp haters, here we go: a short tutorial on where to find ramps, and what you can do with them. I’ve tried to make this visual so that you can see for yourself how versatile this simple green root can be….
For some reason, I have never seen ramps in a Whole Foods or for that matter, any store with four walls and a ceiling.
The only place I’ve found ramps is at the farmers’ market, where you can find them in bunches, looking like this:
Although it depends on seasonal temps, ramp season (in the Northeast) runs from late April into early June.
Use them just as you would any fresh herb, or if you want a milder flavor, give them a quick sautee or grill.
Just go easy on them at first – their flavor packs a punch.
Here are some suggested uses:
1. Snip them raw like chives over anything that loves oniony things – omelettes, ricotta cheese on toast, or as my kids like to do, just eat the leaves plain.
(That was, for the record, ramps scattered over homemade labneh; harass me about writing a post on labneh because it’s ridiculously easy and so delicious)
2. Sautee them and add them to baked foods, like fritatta…
Stir them into a bubbling pot of mussels…
Or make things extra indulgent by splitting open a ball of creamy burrata cheese and spooning warm sautéed ramps into the middle.
3. Pickle them and eat them with anything that needs a hit of sweet and sour, like deviled eggs or mixed into a nice big salad. Or stir them it into a cocktail, dirty ramp Martini? Sounds good to me at least.
4. Grill them and use them as a topping on pizza or grilled bread…
(PS, I recently discovered that kale works really well on the grill too.)
5. Roast them alongside fish, chicken, beef, or any kind of vegetable like potatoes.
Start with this….
Yes that was a big scoop of bacon fat. How dare she endanger the lives of her family like that.
But it made some pretty awesome bacony rampy potatoes…
(it’s a treat, truly, I don’t always pull that stunt)
But whatever you do, don’t attempt to #savetheramps – they are in fact weeds. Expensive weeds, but weeds that farmers are more than happy to get rid of for $4-$5 a bunch. If you feel like joining a cause, this won’t be a popular one.
So eat your greens, and eat your ramps. That is if they’re still around…