Each year in April, those of us here in the Northeast kick off the local and seasonal eating brouhaha with a little chat about ramps. If you live in the west or the south and have been nibbling on strawberries and clementines for months, you probably consider yourself lucky, or at least you should. But one thing you might be missing out on are these nose-opening little wild onions.
Ramps actually grow in much of the U.S., up into Canada. There are big ramp festivals in West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. But it is the sheer lack of anything else edible coming from the ground in the more northern climates that makes ramps such a cause for celebration.
Ramps are essentially wild leeks with tiny white bulbs and long, tender greens. They have a very pungent, onion-y flavor and fragrance. Most people who have tried them, love them, but there are a few fervent anti-ramp people out there.
I bought some last weekend at Mountain Sweet Berry's cheery ramp stand at the Union Square Greenmarket here in New York City. I chopped them cross-wise, sautéed them in butter then tossed them with some tiny roasted potatoes from the same stand.
They pair beautifully with eggs, potatoes, and anything creamy (like a cream-based soup). Treat them gently, use both the green and the white part (everything but the nubby root end) and cook them lightly. Butter or olive oil are both fine fats for ramp-cooking, a tablespoon or so for every cup of chopped ramps.
Some Rampage on The Kitchn:
• Pecan Crusted Salmon with Sautéed Ramps and Purple Potatoes
• Spaghetti with Ramps
• Pickled Ramps
(Top image: Nina Callaway, second image: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, both for TheKitchn.com)