Ramps are wild spring leeks, available in the Northeast for only the spring months after which they flower and lose their pungency. Unlike most vegetables, which through globalization and factory farming are available virtually all year round, ramps remain available only for about 3 months. In recent years, ramps have appeared in menus at numerous high end restaurants and have even been celebrated at “ramp festivals” throughout the east coast.
The amount of attention given to a simple wild leek was perhaps the inspiration for the always entertaining “Shut Up Foodies” blog’s admonition to “please stop talking about ramps.” You know what, I don’t care. They’re delicious. And I’m only too happy it’s ramp season again.
For me, ramps are best by themselves as a side dish fried in olive oil or butter and served simply with salt and pepper or with a few spices (garam masala and chili powder work well or a little pimentón or even just some cumin). I also enjoy them as a topping for pizza.
Here’s a recipe for simple sautéed ramps with ramps that I got at the excellent Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket ($2.50 for the bunch). Enjoy while it’s still spring! Serve with other spring dishes like vegetarian chili with tofu.
- 1 bunch ramps, usually a little less than ½ pound
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil or butter
- salt and pepper
- Cut the roots off the ramps and discard. Wash the ramps thoroughly. Then separate the white bulbs from the leaves. Leave the bulbs whole and make 2 or 3 horizontal cuts on the leaves.
- In a non-stick pan over medium high heat, add the butter or olive oil. When the oil gets hot or the butter bubbles but doesn’t turn brown, add the white bulbs and sauté 2 minutes until the bulbs turn translucent. Then add the leaves and sauté another 2 minutes until the leaves wilt. Add salt and pepper and serve.