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Ramps/Wild Leeks

  • h

I have been blessed with multitudes of ramps growing in our woods and dug up a couple of pounds yesterday. I don't care for them boiled so I grilled a few and sauteed some in a hot pan with a little olive oil and salt finished with a splash of vinegar. Delicious. Very sweet and not at all harsh. Any other suggestions?

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  1. Oh, I covet! The first ramps appeared on at Saturday's farmers market and I got quite a few bunches. I like to just clean them up and saute them in olive oil with a hearty shaking of sea salt. Mario Batali uses them as a filling for ravioli, as well.

    1. Heidi,

      I heard a report on these greens last night on NPR and was intrigued. i have never had em, but they were described as being in the garlic/onion/leek family but stronger and more pungent than all of the above. What do they look like? (hoping to see some so i can try 'em out) how long does their season last?

      4 Replies
      1. re: zim
        Josh Mittleman

        The season for ramps lasts only a few weeks. They look like very slender leeks, the size of scallions, but with a fatter bulb and broad leaves. The whites can be cooked just like the whites of scallions. The leaves have to be treated more carefully: They are tough when raw, but get unpleasantly slimy when overcooked. I usually saute the chopped whites alone in butter, and then toss in the chopped greens for the last 15 seconds.

        Ramp risotto is very nice: Saute the whites before adding the rice, and add the greens a minute or two before the rice is done. Season with white wine, perhaps a touch of truffled olive oil, and parmesan.

        1. re: zim

          The leaves are very lily-like in appearance, almost like the leaf of lily-of-the-valley. The ones I dug are not anywhere as pungent as garlic,scallion or onion. More gentle like a leek. I love the additional ideas, I'll probably try a risotto this week; maybe with the addition of some chevre. Thanks.

          1. re: zim

            The "more pungent" part sounds like wild onions.

            In Oklahoma it is a traditional Native American rite of spring to gather wild onions and have a community feast of scrambled eggs and onions. They grow all over my yard and are tiny little bulbs and very strong.

            1. re: zim

              As Josh said, the season lasts only a few weeks before forest leaves mask the sun, however the bulbs may be dug up and used for quite a while if you mark a patch. Our season in Southern Ontario should begin in 2 or 3 weeks. The attached photo shows what they look like.

              All my ramps are found in thick, swampy hardwood lots growing in tough, tangly forest mat, not soil, so I take a really strong, sharp, narrow garden trowel when ramping. They tend to cluster near the trunks of trees above standing water. I harvest sparingly and never, never stress a clump.

            2. I did a bit of ramp experimenting last spring. Try putting your sauteed ramps in a food processor for a few pulses to make a loose paste. With a little bit of lemon juice or vinegar (sherry vinegar is particularly nice), this makes a great spread to have with bread and cheese.

              1. How do ramps differ from the wretched "onion grass" that grows very unwelcome in my garden. They look like individual blades of chives and are the devil to dig out (and then toss with a vengeance into the garbage). And can someone please come and dig up my ramps/onion grass? You can cook 'em, you can dice 'em, slice 'em, whatever. I'd just love to be rid of them.

                1. If you can get a hold of some Superior Soy Sauce, some thin chinese egg noodles, and some bean sprouts, you can make a hell of a stir fried noodle dish with those leeks. Its a popular noodle dish served at hong kong style restaurants.

                  Pan fried noodles with superior sauce is like my favorite noodle dish in existence. french cut the leeks into grass-shaped strips and throw those into a -realy- hot wok liberally coated with oil and chow it up with the bean sprouts. season it with the superior soy sauce, remove, add more oil to the wok. chow the egg noodles, when they get nice and crispy throw the veggies back and get it all mixed up, and put in more soy sauce.

                  You can jazz this up with pork or chicken or shrimp but I like it real simple.


                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Jason Perlow

                    Jason, I have light soy, dark soy, mushroom soy and just plain ol' soy. What is Superior Soy? This dish sounds like the noodle with bean sprout dish I can find at my favorite Chinese here which I adore.

                    1. re: Heidi

                      Hey, Heidi! Unless I'm mistaken, Superior Soy sauce is the brand name. You should be able to get it any Asian grocery.

                      1. re: Heidi

                        I dont really know what the distinction is, its a bit thicker and darker than your average soy. But I bought some at my asian supermarket and thats what the dish is called at my local dim sum place.

                        It probably is a variation of your noodle with sprout dish.

                        Melanie Wong.. where are you :)

                        1. re: Jason Perlow

                          I believe it's a brand name, maybe a PRC product. should be available in different strengths.

                          "Supreme sauce" and "superior sauce" seem to be popping up on restaurant menus, don't know if they're the same thing.

                    2. If you can,you might look at Tom Colicchio's cookbook, "Think Like A Chef", which has a number of recipes involving ramps.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rjka

                        The braised ramps at Craft yesterday were unworldly. No skimping on salt or butter, but the gamy, ethereal sweetness was not to be believed.

                      2. . . . . and people wonder what California has over Ohio. I might never have left!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: gini

                          Well I have serious Meyer lemon and flavorful year-long produce envy. Don't even get me started!

                          1. re: gini

                            I swipe mine from a local park. I'm going out this weekend. I like ramps in any dish that calls for onion or garlic, but I especially like 'em in a Paella. The ramps we get in Texas are a little more garlicy than the ones I've had elsewhere. BTW, they magically improve a sautee of mushrooms, but the are a powerful flavor, so I probably would shy away from using a lot of them with $18/lb chantrelles.

                          2. Epicurious has a recipe for pasta sauce made from ramps that I am going to try this year.

                            The NY Times had a recipe a few years ago where you cut some notches in a whole lemon, and wrap the ramps around the lemon. You stuff the lemon in the cavity of a whole chicken and roast it. The chicken is infused with the ramp flavor, cut by the lemon. It also smells wonderful while it is cooking

                            1. j
                              Josh Mittleman

                              Last night's dinner was Red snapper fillets with ramps.

                              Season red snapper fillets with salt, black pepper, and paprika.

                              Separate the whites and greens of a bunch of ramps. Chop the whites medium-fine and the green coarsely.

                              Saute the whites in 1/2 butter 1/2 olive oil until they begin to turn transparent. Transfer them to a bowl with most of the fat.

                              Heat the remaining oil almost to the smoking point and add the greens. Salt lightly, then saute until they begin to brown. Transfer them to a second bowl.

                              Reduce to medium heat. Lay the fish in the pan, meat-side down. Allow to cook for two minutes, until the meat has seared well. Turn each fillet, cover the pan, and let it cook until done.

                              Top the fish with the sauted ramp whites and accompany it with a pile of frizzled greens. The dish goes well with pasta with a light sauce; roasted potatoes or wild rice would work just as well.

                              1. i was wondering if you could tell me if i could find any ramps near the lebanon area in pa i am willing to travel 25 to 30 miles to pick thanx