Ok, Let’s talk about a very seasonal, extra special natural wonder today. RAMPS. Mmmmmm. If you’ve ever had them, you will know that they are wonderful. If you knew my friend Alex you would know what a true “super fan” ramps can produce, I mean the girl is MAD for them!! I guess the proper term would be “fan gurl.” Of course, she’s an absolute gem of a person, and often loves quirky things (which might explain why she’s my friend!). But, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Just what ARE ramps anyway? Well, they are a tender little vegetable, usually forraged (ie: not comercially grown), that are related to the onion. They are very much a thing unto themselves. They are one of the first spring plants that you can harvest usually starting in April (their season is very similar to the fiddle heads and morel mushrooms), and the season is quite short. This in itself can be problematic for those who love them, since it can create outright panic if you can’t seem to find any when you know the season is about to end. There is simply something about knowing you’ll have to wait a WHOLE YEAR to get another taste that seems to make these delicate greens even more special!! The taste is a combination of onion and garlic. Soem say stronger than a leek with a garlic kick. In truth, this plant is often called “wild leek,” so I guess it makes sense. If you want to learn a little more about ramps here are a couple of links to check out:
How do you deal with these delicate veggies though? First things first. Once you get them from your forraging friend (if you are so lucky to have such a friend) or your specialty grocer, you need to clean them. These beauties grow wild among the leaves and twigs in the wet spring ground, so be prepared to do a little work here, and whatever you do, DON’T wear your best WHITE T-shirt while doing this…. it won’t end well I promise (voice of experience here ok…). Under cold running water take eash individual ramp (as you see to the left)
and wash the dirt and grit from its leaves, then while running water over the bulb end, use your fingers to remove the thin outter covering, to reval the glistening white bulb that is just waiting to enhance your cooking experience! This outter layer feels very slick and slippery, almost like that thin film you find between the layers of an onion. It should slide off very easily with your fingers under running water, and will simply then need to be pulled away from the roots to leave a clean bulb behind. Todd and I like to leave the roots attached to the ramps until the moment just before we cook them, although some people will simply cut the lower end of the bulbs as they wash them removing the roots as they go. Todd assures me that leaving the roots intact until just before cooking helps to keep them fresher, and I do not disagree with Todd on kitchen matters. I know who’s wheelhouse the kitchen is, and is sure isn’t mine (ask about the smoked chicken I made yesterday…. 😦 wait on second thought DON’T ask about that smoked chicken…..).
Once you have them cleaned you will have a nice bunch of wonderful produce to use in your dishes. Just like you see here. Now before we go any further, you are probably wondering, “what part of this plant is useful?” right? Well the answer is ALL OF IT!!! That’s one of the beauties here. The leaves are very good wilted up as a side dish. You could even do “creamed ramps.” You can blend them down into a “ramp pesto.” Some people even like to char them up a little over an open flame before making the pesto. I have also seen recipies for beer battered deep fried ramps. You get to be the judge here of what you want to do. The possibilities are endless. Of course, you can also just pick one up and eat it from root to leaf, just as they are….. no one’s judging you I promise. Ok?
Then of course you have the nice white bulb end. These are useful as well. Sliced up like you would a green onion or shallot, for an oniony/garlicy kick in any dish you would like. You can also pickle them too!!! I mean, really, when the season is so short, you have to find ways to eat them throughout the year right? Pickling them is one way to accomplish this. Our nephew Kyle is pickling some right now as we speak (I know this for a fact ‘cuz he’s the guy who hooked me up with his forager for the BEST RAMPS ever!!! and for his efforts I DO have to give a shout out to www.craftpapercatering.com the site is so new I haven’t even seen it yet!! But I’m promised it’ll be up and running May 21/15.) Just for the record, you can also quickly blanch them and freeze them for later use. The freezer in our house quite often has a special little bag of them tucked away in case of a “ramps” emergency.
I just can’t resist a couple of more links to things that relate which I think you might enjoy. For example. Here is a blog post about ramps and foraging them that ends with what I think sounds like a good recipe for beer battered ramps. I cannot vouche for the recipe as I have not yet tried it, but the photos look good and a foodie friend sent me to the link, so I can only hope they woudl taste as good as they look!!! Of course the web address also includes references to BACON and MAGIC so I can say without a doubt that this must be the shit!!! Check it out here…. http://www.baconismagic.ca/loka-snacks/wild-garlic/
Here is another link that will get you started on your journey to all things “ramp” related!!! I did notice that there was an article thumbnailed here talking about sustainability of ramps, and talking about growing you rown. This is now on my reading list, as our precious supply of ramps could be threatened by growing interest in them. I would not want us to lose the wonderful goodness that are ramps… EVER!!!! http://www.punkdomestics.com/category/tags/foraging-ramps Read and enjoy!!
Of course, I have to admit, right now I have a favourite way to use ramps. It is so simple it probably seems like I shouldn’t even need to say it or post it, but truthfully? Take a bunch of ramps. Sautee them in a pan with just a little butter or oil. Chop them up roughly and stir them through your favourite homestyle mashed potatoes. While Todd will try and make you believe that I cannot do anything simple, ordinary, or drama free this would be one case where he’d be dead wrong. Absolutely delicious. Absolute comfort food with a twist. Simple, but elevated. Just like food should be.
Thanks for keeping up with our blog!! And just for the record…. Ramps are only 62 calories per 100g! So they easily fit into a calorie restricted diet! YAY!!!