The ramp season is about to explode onto farmer’s market tables and restaurant menus along big swaths of the Eastern area of the US. The whole plant is edible, from the scallion-like bulb to the skinny purple stems and tender wide green leaves, and it packs a wallop of flavor that’s more akin to garlic.
If you’ve never tried ramps, go on, be brave: Buy a bunch and discover what all the fuss is about. Here are five excellent ways to enjoy this unique spring taste of the mountains. Be sure to wash them well first, trim the roots, and slip off any loose membranes.
Ramp Lovin’ Eggs
Chop a handful of whole ramps (bulb and leaves) and cook them in butter before adding eggs and scrambling. A little cream cheese with the eggs is even better. Feast!
It’s what the Irish would call it if they were lucky enough to have ramps for their mash.
Make your favorite mashed potato recipe, but instead of melting the butter with the milk, cook a fistful of thinly-sliced whole ramps in the butter, then add the milk and heat it. Mash your drained spuds with the milky ramp goodness and season. Smile contently.
Briefly blanch a large bunch of ramps in your pasta pot of well-salted boiling water, then remove and chop. Cook 1 pound spaghetti in the pot; about halfway through, add ½ cup of the pasta water to the blender with the ramps, the zest of a lemon, 2 glugs of good olive oil and a palmful of Parmigiano. Puree then toss with drained spaghetti and season. Devour.
Think crisp kale chips: Toss a bunch of ramps in a large rimmed sheet pan with a hearty drizzle of good olive oil and some salt. Slide the pan into the middle of a heated 325°F oven until bulbs are golden and leaves are crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Sweet.
Cut off bulbs and save greens for later. Blanch bulbs in boiling water 30 seconds and drain. Put in a heat-proof jar. Bring 1 cup each of plain (not seasoned) rice vinegar and water, 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil, stirring, and pour over ramps. Chill at least 1 day before sampling, and keep chilled in fridge. Serve with cured meats and sausage. Rejoice.