It’s Mother’s Day morning, and Jenny is standing over me with her iPhone, timing me as I type this. The goal is to write this post in seven and a half minutes or less, which is exactly how long it took us to get this dinner going the other night. So: have you had ramps before? We hadn’t either, as of three or four years ago. Were they the same thing as garlic scapes? Were they spring onions? Did you have to cook them first? All we knew was, they were one of those slightly mysterious things we’d heard serious food types talk about rapturously every spring, but we’d never willingly eaten one, let alone cooked one in the comfort of our own home. Thanks to some generous friends upstate, who happen to have them growing all over their yard, all that has now changed, and we’re here to say: ramps freakin’ rule. They’re a fleeting, fragrant, oniony-garlicky vegetable, also known as the wild leek, that pop ups every spring for a few weeks (if you’re lucky) and then disappears. They look kind of delicate, like green feathers, but don’t be fooled; these things announce themselves, flavor-wise. We’re now among the geeks who look forward to their arrival, spend time tracking them down, and then eat as much of them as humanly possible over their limited engagement in our lives. (Jenny just announced that I am about to pass the five-minute mark. “Hurry,” she says.) Anyway, ramps: They’re embarrassingly easy to make. I trimmed the root ends, washed them in the sink, patted them with a paper towel, and put them in a baking dish. I tossed with a few tablespoons of good olive oil, kosher salt, and some pepper. I roasted for 25 minutes at 375°, tossing with tongs now and then to make sure they cooked evenly. And that’s it. From there, you can go a million different ways. I usually take a pair of scissors and snip them up right there in the roasting dish, dump them over some pasta, and top with a drizzle of olive oil and some shredded Parmesan. (“Seven minutes,” says Jenny.” Ach, I’m failing.) Or you can put them on pizza — last week, we replicated a pizza we’d had recently at Il Buco by pairing them with tallegio, a slightly runny, slightly stinky, extremely tasty Italian cheese. (Phoebe, who’d just come home — starving — from soccer practice, pronounced this “her favorite pizza EVER.”) Or you can, as we did just last night, put the roasted ramps in a food processor, with 1/4 cup of olive oil, a bunch of fresh parsley, juice from half a lemon, some salt and pepper, and make a kick-ass spread for some grilled bread. Or you can just eat them plain, as a side dish, with a drizzle of lemon juice. Or… see how easy this is? If you’ve got a farmer’s market near you, go! Get some now, before they disappear. Ramp it up, people!* — Andy
* Okay, so this post clocked in at 11:49 — not including proofreading — but you get the idea. It’s quick, it’s easy. Don’t overthink it. Olive oil, salt, and pepper + ramps = you can’t go wrong. Maybe I should have just written that.
We had them in risotto at an amazing restaurant…they charred them in a grill pan, then sort of just stirred them in on top of the risotto. (and did I mention the risotto had goat cheese in it too? crazy delicious.) Highly recommended!
Another name for ramps is rapunzel – the plant craved by the mother in the story. Given the brief appearance ramps make, no wonder she was so insistent!
I love ramps! They’re one of my favorite spring vegetables, and even more exciting, the first local produce that’s available.
Found them at Whole Foods on Friday night and I roasted them exactly as you instructed. Delicious and oh-so-fragrant in the house as they roasted.
Ok I am officially on the hunt for RAMPS!! I’ve heard about them for ages and have never experienced ramp greatness. Great post!! I’ve always been curious because of “Rapunzel”!!
We use ramps (the green part) as an addition to soups, pasta, pizza, potatoes or anything that comes our way instead of using scallions or parsley this time of the year. They’re great in salads as well.
To enjoy them even when their season is over, you can always dry them like any other herb or “pickle” in olive oil.
Just FYI, one hundred ramps planted in the woods of Sperryville last month. First annual Sperryville Ramps Festival planned for April 2014
that looks amazing