If there is a niche vegetable that garners more controversial attention from the foodie set, it would be hard to name. Still cool? Yesterday’s news? Please.
Ramps are a wild member of the onion family (though they are not wild leeks or scallions, as they are often erroneously called), and during their fleeting season they are wonderful in all sorts of dishes. Ramps cannot be cultivated, and therefore must be foraged in the wild. They’re found only in the Eastern part of the United States and Canada. Overharvesting threatens to be a problem, so if you are lucky enough to find them, don’t clean out the whole patch – leave some bulbs behind so they can re-propagate. They look somewhat like scallions, but have nice broad and long green leaves on top of slim white stalks (sometimes with a bit of purple.) Ramps are more potent than leeks and scallions, with a distinctly pungent, garlicky flavor.
Ramps can be quickly sauteed and used in risottos and other rice dishes, in sauces, pastas and potato dishes, with eggs and on top of crostini. Use both the white bulbs and the green leaves (the leaves are milder in flavor). They can also be used uncooked – in a pesto, for instance. Raw ramps are very strong, so be judicious.
Spring Pizzas from Food Network Magazine (pictured above)
Have you ever tried ramps? Tell us in the comments below.