For Eastern locavores—those hardy souls who try to cook only what they can find locally—ramps hold a special significance, because they appear in the spring and usher in the season's produce. Also known as wild leeks, ramps have scallion-like bulbs and a garlicky flavor. Some people know how to spot them in the wild, but you can also buy them at farmers' markets and, if you're lucky, your local supermarket. They don't appear for long, so grab them when you have a chance.
So, you're probably wondering, what exactly does one do with these magical vegetables? As it happens, guest blogger Krysta Doerfler has a great recipe:
I was at first intrigued by ramps and wasn't sure how I would prepare this beautiful vegetable. Luckily, I came across a recipe that is simple and perfect for one of the first warm nights of spring when you can eat outside. And while the ingredients include some tomatoes, which are not in season, this gave me a chance to seek out any grocers that sell local hydroponic tomatoes and to snatch up little pots of herbs that will provide me with a bounty for several months.
As I began slicing the ramps and the sweet, earthy aroma filled my kitchen, I knew that this was going to be a great meal. I suppose the anchovies could be optional, but I found they added the right amount of a salty kick. This recipe was taken from a local restaurant and the chef didn't give any measurements because he wants people to experiment with what works for their taste buds.
Fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped
Ramps (bulbs and greens chopped separately)
Precooked al dente pasta
1. Clean the ramps well under cold water and snip off the root. You can use the greens as well as the bulbs, just like a scallion. In this recipe we'll use both, but separate them because the bulbs require slightly longer cooking than the greens.
2. Add olive oil to a hot pan. Saute anchovy fillets, tomatoes, and ramp bulbs.3. Add the pasta to pan and toss. Add and toss the ramp greens, parsley, basil and parmesan.