Ramps

Ramps

It’s spring in the Mid-Atlantic and that means it’s finally ramp season (and horrible allergy season).  Meyer was so excited to find them at our farmer’s market yesterday. Just by luck our first spring trip to the farmer’s market coincided with the start of ramp season around DC. Ramps are a wild onion with a wonderfully garlic nose and earthy oniony flavor.  There are so many ways to use them in cooking:  in fresh pasta or gnocchi, with eggs all sorts of ways, lightly sautéed, pesto with the leaves, or even pickled.  We think they should be around our farmer’s market for about a month so we have a bit of time to fill our bellies before they disappear. Ours were picked in the wilds of West Virginia which seems to be the ramp center of the world. Ramps thrive in a rich soil with a cool climate. They pop up before the leaves have opened on the trees basking in sunlight on the forest floor.  The mountains of West Virginia are the perfect climate

I’ve learned there are several ramp festivals in the coming month (many in West Virginia).  We might just have to take a road trip or two to check them out. An interesting characteristic of ramps is that they are usually forged from the wild. Organic Gardening gives some tips on harvesting if you find a wild patch-pick only 15% a year to keep them sustainable.  We might look into our own patch with some ramp seedsThe Washington Post published an article this month on where to dine on ramps and other spring foods.

Last year’s windfall of ramps had me pickling with Saveur’s recipe pickled ramps. We also made a delicious meal from Smitten Kitchen’s ramp pizza recipe–tweaked to be on a gluten free crust.  Ramps have a certain status in the culinary scene. Like other foraged foods they are a of the moment ingredient. Many local chefs use them in specials during the short season.  Blackberry Farm is now selling their own pickled ramps and ramp krout.

We greedily bought three bunches this week. The first bunch was devoured in a frittata this morning.  I’ll pickle another bunch of ramps this afternoon in red wine with mustard and coriander seeds. The third I might just sauté to compliment our dinner of roasted chicken with smashed potatoes. Luckily, next Saturday I can do it all over again.

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