Your Guide to Ramps
Every chef posts about them on Instagram. Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, and The New York Times share recipe after recipe for them. Any foodie you know starts to scream with joy at their first sighting: “OMG ramps are here, ramps are here!” Every year customers ask us about them. Why all the hype? What are they, and why should we care? How do I even cook them? Below is a simple OurHarvest guide to ramps.
The first sighting of ramps is typically the first sign of green on the farm. Many consider them to be the true harbinger of the spring harvest, and after a long, cold, and dark winter, they provide hope for warmer days, summer cocktails, and BBQs to come. Part of the hype over ramps is their signal that the months of eating nothing but root vegetables are finally drawing to a close. The other parts of the hype come from their unique and powerful flavor profile, coupled with a rarity that makes them difficult to get a hold of, as they’re usually not offered in traditional supermarkets.
Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are alliums, which puts them in the same family as garlic, onions, and shallots. Ramps are difficult to grow, and as a result, they’re typically foraged in shady, wooded areas. As one farmer said to us, “Farmers don’t grow ramps. We either have them or we don’t.” They have a strong garlicky, oniony flavor and are definitely not the thing to eat before a romantic date or big client meeting. But despite the strong flavor and resulting bad breath, ramps have a subtle sweetness that makes them absolutely delicious.
Cooking ramps is actually quite simple. After a thorough cleaning, they can be kept whole or separated into the leaves and the stems. If left whole, we recommend simply grilling them. A nice char brings out the ramps’ natural sweetness. If you decide to separate the leaves from the stem, you can slice the stem much like you would the white end of a scallion. We like to do it in slightly longer pieces – maybe ½ an inch to an inch since they are typically quite thin. You can then toss both the leaves and stems into a sauté or use them as a sweeter replacement for garlic in many recipes. We’ve used them in many recipes including pesto, along with some pasta, and even pickled and as the finishing touch on a refreshing cocktail. Below are two of our favorite ramp recipes!
The first is a brunch dish – Ramp Toast with a Poached Egg. Spread a little goat cheese (we use Ardith Mae’s Chevre) onto toast, and top it with sautéed ramps and an oozy poached farm-fresh egg. The result is tangy, garlicky, creamy heaven. The recipe can be found here.
The other is a very quick pasta dish, where you sauté the stems in a pan, add the leaves for a minute before adding the cooked pasta, then let the ramp leaves continue to wilt down in the piping hot pasta. It makes for an awesome, special, and fast weeknight meal. And we mean fast – it’s on the table in 10 minutes! The recipe can be found here.
Enjoy your ramps! And let us know what you do with them. We’d love to see your photos on Instagram and Facebook – tag us @OurHarvest with the hashtag #OurHarvest and #OHyum. We hope you like them as much as we do!