Ramps (also known as wild leeks) are all the rage right now. They are only harvested from mid March through April and there is a limited supply. I first came across these little delicacies at the markets a few years ago and became obsessed! In many areas where ramps were once abundant they are now more rare. Because of this, people keep their ramp "patches" very secret and are careful not to get greedy/take the whole bunch.
There are many different ways to use ramps. I often make ramp pesto, pickle the bulbs, make a compound butter or just add them to scrambled eggs. They go great in egg salad as well. I have attempted a ramp pasta dough, which came out very well, just not as flavorful as I would have liked. I think next time I'll have to add more ramps. Basically, just take your favorite pasta dough recipe and add the blanched/drained ramps as you would for a spinach pasta dough. Try it out and let me know how it goes!
Other ideas are ramp pancakes, grilled ramps and ramps roasted with potatoes. Though they have a very strong/pungent flavor when eaten raw, once they are cooked the flavor mellows to perfection.
1 bunch of ramps (leaves & stems only)
1 c chopped fresh spinach
juice of half a lemon
about half a cup of chopped walnuts
1 1/2 tbsp pecorino romano
1/3 c olive oil
fresh cracked sea salt to taste
Put everything in a blender and process until a smooth pesto consistency.
I highly recommend adjusting these flavors to your taste. I topped it off with some more olive oil.
BROWN RICE SALAD with RAMP PESTO and VEGETABLES
1 c cooked brown jasmine rice
1/2 c ramp pesto
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 orange bell pepper, chopped
6 stalks of asparagus, diced
1/2 cup frozen, shelled fava beans
Cook your rice on the stove-top or in the oven according to package instructions. I have become addicted to baking my brown rice, but either works fine. While your rice is cooking, sautée some of your favorite vegetables. I used red and orange bell peppers, asparagus and fava beans.
Once the rice is cooked, while still warm, toss with your ramp pesto. I added about 1/2 cup ramp pesto to 1 cup of cooked rice. Toss in the vegetables and top with fresh cracked sea salt to taste and 2 tbsp of olive oil.
RAMP COMPOUND BUTTER
This butter is really good on everything!
1/2 bunch ramps, finely chopped, leaves and bulbs
8 oz salted butter, at room temp
1 teaspoon honey
1 tbsp lemon zest
In a medium sized bowl fold in all ingredients with the room temperature butter. Once combined transfer the butter to some parchment paper. Form into a log and wrap with the parchment. You can keep this is the refrigerator for a while or you can freeze it for later use. If freezing, I recommend cutting into slicing and freezing individually. Enjoy!