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In Season: Ramps

In Season: Ramps

5 'ramped-up' ramp recipes you'll want to try making at home

These Seared Scallops with Grilled Ramps and Chimichurri are a great way to start off a spring feast.

Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are a popular spring vegetable among chefs. They can be found in damp, forested areas in a region stretching south from Canada to Alabama, and west to the Dakotas. Their season is fairly short; ramps make an appearance in farmers' markets during April and May in most places.

Click here to see the In Season: Ramps Slideshow

Unlike regular leeks, which have thick, tough leaves that are rarely used in cooking, ramps have thin, tender leaves that taste sharp and spicy like scallions, but with herbal undertones. Their flavor mellows out with cooking. The whites can be used as well, in much the same way as you would use the white parts of scallions.[slideshow:

Ramps have come under scrutiny recently because of concerns about overharvesting. This is a plant that does not recover quickly from bad harvesting practices, since the plants require five to seven years to start making seeds. The best thing to do is to ask the purveyor about their practices to make sure they are harvesting ramps in a sustainable manner.

To help you make the most of this delicious spring vegetable at home, we've gathered up five great ramp recipes for you to try. So check out our slideshow for the recipes and get ready to ramp up your cooking.

Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.


16 Chefs on Their Favorite Ways to Cook Ramps

Come spring, there&aposs a lot of produce to get excited about. While chefs eagerly await the arrival of vegetables like asparagus and artichokes, no ingredient receives quite as much attention as ramps. These wild leeks—which taste like a combination of onions and garlic—have gathered a cult-like following, in part because they&aposre only available for the few weeks between late April and early June.

Whether you&aposre in the mood for pizza or papillotes, ramps are sure to enhance the flavors of the dish. If you&aposre able to get your hands on some of these fleeting alliums, look no further than the following 16 chefs for inspiration on how to cook, eat, and enjoy them.


How to Cook with Them

From their small white bulb that resembles a spring onion to their large green leaves, every part of a ramp is edible (just trim off the roots at the end of the bulb). Slice ramps thin like garlic or shallots and sauté them for a springtime pasta dish, a breakfast omelet, or rich pan sauce. Or use an entire bunch of ramps in our Universal Pesto Recipe. You could also make a savory compound butter or pickled ramps, both of which will preserve their flavor well beyond April showers and May flowers.


GRILLED RAMP HOLLANDAISE

INGREDIENTS:

Pinch salt, plus more to taste if needed

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

4 ounces butter, softened, in chunks

DIRECTIONS:

Arrange the ramps on a plate, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Preheat grill to medium. Turn the grill down to low and place the ramps gently on the grill, with the leaves at the cooler part of the grill. Grill for 1 to 3 minutes, checking frequently, especially the greens. Remove from the grill.

Finely mince the bulbs and thicker parts of the ramp stems. Chop the leaves and set aside.

Place the minced bulbs and stems into a small saucepan with the lemon juice and water. Cook over medium heat until the pieces of the ramps are fully softened, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat, add the egg yolks, and whisk vigorously to prevent them from becoming scrambled.

Return the pan to the heat and add the butter, one chunk at a time, whisking constantly to incorporate until you have used all the butter.

If you are not ready to serve, keep the sauce off the heat in a warm spot. If you have let the hollandaise sit for a few minutes, place it over a low heat and whisk again to smooth the sauce. Right before serving, mix in the chopped ramp leaves.


Who doesn't love a good biscuit?

Green, green, green: This is spring on a plate.

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If there was one vegetable that could show you it’s springtime without telling you it’s springtime, it’s the humble asparagus. This recipe is just as delicious as it looks—there’s a reason why it made the cover of Athena’s book, Cook Beautiful—and it’s also incredibly easy to make. Win-win!

This has been one of the most popular recipes on EyeSwoon and for good reason. The cod melts in your mouth with the sweet tang of citrus and Aleppo pepper spice. This is a transitional dish that can take you from vibrant Winter citrus to Spring-forward fennel.


What are ramps?

He said the best way to describe them is a cross between garlic and an onion. If you are in the woods, looking to harvest them, he said to make sure you can smell a strong onion odor to help make sure it&rsquos a ramp and not another plant that could be poisonous.

&ldquoThere are a lot of look-alikes,&rdquo he said about the need to be educated about what you eat from a forest. Foraging for food can be fun, but it can be dangerous if you don't know what you are eating.

&ldquoGive it a smell test,&rdquo he said explaining that ramps smell similar to garlic and onions. &ldquoIt&rsquos a wild onion so it would smell like onion.&rdquo

He said for generations, ramps have been culturally significant as one of the first sources of green vegetables for people to eat each year.

He said the word "ramps" dates to Europe. He said the plants would be ready to eat when the sun is in the astrological phase Aries, which has the symbol of a ram. People started calling them ramps and ramsons. When settlers arrived in this country, the name continued.


If you live in an area where ramps grow, you can indeed forage your own wild ramps. Be extra careful of plants that can look like ramps, however, such as lily of the valley, which can be harmful if ingested.

When foraging for ramps, be sure the leaves you pick smell distinctly of onion and garlic — this is one tell-tale sign that you&aposve found ramps and not something else. In addition, if unsure you should consult a local forager or multiple online sources before eating what you&aposve picked. Of course, as with any foraging, if you&aposre just not sure, it is best left unpicked.

When picking wild ramps, be sure to pick just at the base of the stem, leaving the bulb behind. This ensures that you&aposll be rewarded with plenty of ramps to pick next year, as the bulbs can take years to appear again.


Make This Spicy Zhug Before Ramp Season Is Over

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Ramps, those hyper-seasonal spring alliums, are busting out all over, and there’s only a few weeks left in their fleeting season. Found in the wild in the U.S. and Eastern Canada for about two months out of the year, ramps are beloved by chefs and home cooks for their punch of onion-garlic flavor. Both the bulbs and the leaves work well in a variety of preparations, from pesto to pickles.

For this approach, ramps lend their zippy goodness to zhug, a spicy Yemenite sauce traditionally made with green chilies, cilantro, parsley, and other spices. This springtime version is the perfect way to preserve ramps and can be frozen in small containers to thaw and use throughout the year whenever a ramp craving happens to strike. Equally at home on a grilled skirt steak, a pan of roasted vegetables, or swirled into a mound of hummus, you’ll have no problem finding uses for this fiery condiment.

Note: If you can’t find ramps where you live, this recipe works with scallions as well. Or try a more traditional zhug recipe like this one from Chef Michael Solomonov.


As kids growing up in Michigan, we learned this little saying in honor of the Midwest’s most popular fungus, the morel mushroom. It’s true that in most years, morel mushrooms make their most reliable appearance around the first week or two of May, although in exceptional years, they may start up even earlier.

According to a recent article in the Detroit Free Press, Michigan is having an “epic” morel mushroom harvest this year, due in part to the wet weather the state has had this spring. The season never lasts long however, and is likely to end by around June 1 (or earlier), depending on the weather over the next week or two. According to five-time national morel-hunting champion Anthony Williams of Boyne City, Michigan, the start of the season began late this spring and may likely end earlier than usual because of expected over 70-degree temperatures just around the corner.

If you can’t get out into the woods before the end of May, or you don’t live in the Midwestern morel mushroom producing heartland, don’t despair. You can still enjoy this rare taste of spring by buying fresh morels online from our sponsor, Earthy Delights. To place an order, just visit http://earthy.com or call (855) 328-8732, Monday – Friday, between 9 AM and 5 PM Eastern time.

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