Variations on a wild ramp

The season for ramps started early this year after the March warm up. While walking our yard to see what little flowering bulbs were up, I noticed that all the ramps I had planted in earlier years were already green. Since I am still trying to cultivate my ramp patches and I wasn’t prepare to harvest any at home, I grabbed David for his one trek of the year to the woods along the Cambridge Battenkill road to dig ramps.

The earliest ramps are milder in flavor than the later harvest, but still rich in aroma (ok – they stink). The first batch had a tender white base, slimmer than a pencil; they cooked up in a minute. I slivered the first greens into ribbons and stirred into omelets. Others were coarsely chopped and tossed into olive oil and sliced potatoes for a variation on potato Lyonnaise.

Next weekend with guests arriving we’ll dig a fresh supply and work on a few more new recipes, starting with some from this year’s list.

A couple notes of caution. The first is that ramps truly do stink. After giving them a good cleaning in the kitchen sink, be sure to move all the waste to your compost or outdoor trash. Dropping any leavings in your kitchen trash will swiftly yield a house ripe with ramp. When storing ramps in the fridge, double bag them and make sure any delicate food items that pick up flavors (like cream or butter) are thoroughly sealed. The same goes for ramps in the freezer.

The second warning, and I always forget this with the first ramp meal – some people are more sensitive to gastric upset than others. The quantity eaten can have a direct impact on your feeling of unwellness. Don’t start the season with a plate full of sautéed ramps. Stir a handful into a recipe and enjoy them. There are 6 weeks of fresh ramp harvesting – which can easily be extended into summer after the greens whither by digging the bulbs before flowering, and with freezing and preserving methods.

I have two recipes in the new Ramp cookbook pictured here – available at Amazon.

Ramp recipes for 2012

Ramp and fingerling Lyonnaise

Braised Belgian Endive and ramps

Gruyere gougeres with smoky bacon and chopped ramps

Cream of baby portobello mushrooms with drizzled with emulsified ramps

Slow cooked rapini and ramps (with spicy Italian sausage)

Dry-cooked curried ramps bulbs and cauliflower

Ramp rub for grilled pork

Ramp butters: compound, white, and green

Pickled ramps: sweet and sour, sweet and spicy, and chutney-style

Tapenade of ramps with green olives and capers

Relish of oil-cured ramp whites and roasted red peppers

Peppered and ramp-wrapped and roasted sustainable catfish or artic char or cod

recipes to come….

And please always harvest sustainably. Read more about it here before you go foraging:

http://www.uvm.edu/~bbeckage/Manuscripts/Rock.BiologicalConservation.2004.pdf

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About barbaraprice

Artist, Food writer, book editor, gardener
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