Have you ever heard of ramps? Probably not, if like me, you live west of Minnesota. Those of you Easterners are likely well familiar with them. Also known as wild leeks or ramsons, ramps are one of the first delicacies of spring. They grow in the woodlands east of the Great Plains — and often in huge swaths.
Ramps are gathered by professional foragers each spring and make their way to any number of local food festivals. These days ramps are trendy; you can find them on white-linen menus from New York to San Francisco.
My friend Hank brought some ramps over for us to play with the other day; as a Jersey boy, he is well acquainted with them. According to Hank, you use ramps like green onions or young spring garlic. Ramps taste a lot like green garlic, though more subtle in their garlicky flavor.
They can be eaten raw, but are best sautéed, roasted, grilled, pickled or made into pesto. The spearpoint-shaped upper leaves, unusually wide for a member of the onion family, are tender and are often separated from the stouter stalk and miniature bulb.
Have a favorite ramp recipe? Please let us know about it in the comments. Also check out these great ramp recipes from fellow food bloggers:
- Sweet and Sour Ramps, Ramp and Parsley Pesto, and Ramp Pasta from Hank of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
- Orecchiette Pasta with Ramps and Fiddleheads from No Recipes
- Ramp, Bacon and Ricotta Tart from Eggs on Sunday
- Buckwheat Crepes and Ramps From Dog Hill Kitchen
If you live West of Minnesota and want to try ramps, the only way to get them is to have them shipped in. They are available online from late March through the spring. You can order them at Earthy Delights.