Spring ushers in a tasty assortment of fruits and vegetables that make it a little easier for us to stick to healthier lifestyles without feeling like we're making massive sacrifices. But there are two vegetables in particular that are in season in spring for about point-nine-nine nanoseconds, and foodies go absolutely bonkers for them. The first, which we're taking a look at today, are ramps.
Also called wild leeks, they have a white tuber, burgundy stem and wide green leaves, and look like part large scallion or small leek with a hint of rhubarb. They have a pungent aroma that some describe as a cross between garlic and leeks.
The demand for this early spring vegetable is so high there are food festivals dedicated to exclusively to it. Festivals are held beginning in April, but there are few upcoming ones, including the largest and one of the oldest ramp festivals in the nation. The town of Cosby, Tennessee, bordering Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has held the "Cosby Ramp Festival" on the first weekend in May since 1954. That's a bit short notice, but you can catch the annual ramp festival in Flag Pond, Tennessee, on the second Saturday each May, or in Whitetop, Virginia, on the third weekend in May.
While sinking your teeth into deep fried ramps at a festival sounds tantalizing, it's hardly good for your heart or waistline. So whether you forage for ramps yourself or score some at a festival or farmers market, here are 13 healthier ways to prepare them.
If you can't get your hands on ramps for this delicious recipes, then The Tart Tart recommends you use Chinese leeks.
Sweet Paul featured this recipe for chimichurri sauce, which we are huge fans of even without the ramps. It's great on steak, chicken or roasted vegetables. You may even be tempted to slather some of this garlicky goodness on a fresh baguette.
They ramp up the flavor (sorry not sorry) in a chimichurri sauce, so it's no surprise that they add a nice layer to this pesto sauce recipe by Closet Cooking.
You want some savory biscuits? Look no further than this mouthwatering delight by the aptly named The Earthly Delights Blog.
Bright, oniony ramps add a touch of springtime to this Southern staple featured on Saveur.
3 Foragers decided to take advantage of those flouncy ramp leaves. Why not try stuffing them like cabbage leaves? The results are not only delicious, but also easily customizable for omnivores, vegans and vegetarians alike. Ah, harmony.
My New Roots whipped up a rice-less risotto with ramps, green asparagus, large asparagus spears and shallots. Creative!
Marc of No Recipes explains that ramps work perfectly for kimchi — the fiery Korean sidedish that’s pickled in a potent mix of chili powder and garlic — because of their strong, though not overpowering, garlic flavor. He adds that the long leaves are well suited for wrapping around a slice of steamed pork, or a bit of rice. Make the most out of those ramps!
Marc didn't stop with the kimchi. He also whipped up some ramp confit by roasting the ramps in an ample amount of olive oil. The olive oil the ramps are cooked in is redolent with a leek-y-garlicky aroma, he says on his food blog No Recipes, and is marvelous on pizza dough or bread or blended into a vegetable soup. "Ramp and corn chowder anyone?" he asks. Yes, please.
The Foraged Foodie used ramps in lieu of scallions for this sushi recipe. They caution that you have to really like raw knotweed to like this recipe. Its crunchy tartness balances out the ramp's onion-garlic taste. For something a bit milder and softer, you could use pickled or blanched knotweed.
Kitchen Apparel went all out with this recipe for baked eggs with fresh asparagus, foraged ramps, homemade goat cheese and topped off with a pea shoot almond pesto.
Food52 featured this warm and smoky potato salad recipe, prepared with, not boiled, but rather roasted potatoes, sunchokes, tender roasted asparagus and a gentle wallop from pungent ramps. Lemons suffuse everything with just the right amount of tang, says Food52, and anchovies lend a je ne sais quoi (mais je l'aime). Food52, will you marry us?
Reclaiming Provincial caramelized some ramps and leftover asparagus heads and stems, marinated asparagus ribbons and baby kale with a little olive oil and sea salt and made this amazing pizza.
Main photo credit: "Allium tricoccum or ramps" by victorgrigas — Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons