So here in the Midwest, it has taken awhile to see spring. BUT it is finally here! And when Spring is here in the Midwest, I get especially excited for cooking. One of my favorite foods to eat in spring is ramps. If you have never had them before, you are totally missing out. I LOVE RAMPS!
Ramps are wild leeks. Their flavor is kind of like a mix between garlic and onion, but so much better. The versatility they offer in cooking is awesome and an amazing addition to just about any dish.
In many areas in the US that don’t experience high heat, you can even forage for your own ramps as long as there is a fresh water source nearby. While this can be awesome, I would only recommend it if you know how to sustainably forage for ramps (and other foods). Ramps take awhile to recover when harvested. It can take up to 10 years for a patch of ramps to recover, even when only 25% of the patch is harvested. There are certain areas in North America who are having shortages of ramps. It’s even illegal to harvest ramps for sale in Quebec. This article by Chefs Collaborative discuss harvesting ramps and the problems that could arise, if you would like to learn more. If you do decide to forage for ramps, please be smart about it–as we want ramps for many years to come.
So, what can you do with ramps? So, so much. You can eat basically the whole ramp. I usually cut up the bulb part of the ramp and then sauté them. This lends itself as a nice base to many dishes, whether it be a sauce or seasoning for a protein and veggies. The leaf of the ramp is great to incorporate when you finish the dish as a garnish or within the dish itself. Cook it like you would spinach. You can even have ramps raw or pickled, however I prefer my sautéed or roasted.
Ramps are quite the versatile vegetable. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you make incorporate ramps in your cooking this spring or check out a local restaurant who highlights this awesome piece of produce. Just be sure to enjoy responsibly!
If you aren’t sure where to start, look out for my ramp and beef stir-fry recipe later this week.