What to Do With Ramps

I have been talking about ramps to friends since about March, when my friend Marsha suggested that it was almost ramp season. “Almost ramp season” seemed likely, but it was a cold spring around here, and the ramps seemed to show up late this time around. I ended up buying some from a produce coop my friend Mindy helps to run, and when I had the opportunity to buy them at a reasonable price I nabbed 1.5 pounds. I gave a handful to my friend Lewis, but the rest went into my fridge.

Those ramps never left my brain all week. I wanted to find as many interesting things to do with them as possible in the short season I knew they’d be available. I have more ramps coming this week, but here’s how I have used the ones I got in on Tuesday:

Kilt Spinach Salad: A kilt (Southern for killed) salad is a lovely way to welcome spring, and with some beautiful spinach also coming in from the coop, this one seemed like a no-brainer. I separated the leaves from the bulbs of a couple of ramps, chopped the ramps coarsely, and sliced the bulbs into delicate rings. I sauteed them in a little butter. I added chopped bacon (I had no bacon fat, but it would have been even better than the butter), a generous shot of apple cider vinegar, and a little olive oil. Once the dressing was boiling hard, I dumped it over the spinach and tossed quickly with tongs. Nice lunch.

Ramp Kibbeh with Ramp Tzatziki: Cook about 2 cups of bulgur wheat (just dump boiling water on it and let it sit 20 minutes, drain and use). Combine in a food processor with a chopped onion, a few handfuls of ramp leaves, and some garlic and pulse to combine. Add 1lb of ground lamb and pulse to combine. Using moistened hands, form into oval patties. Grill or cook in an iron skillet until crusty-edged and cooked through.

For the tzatzki, peel and seed a cucumber. Shred it and salt it heavily. Set it aside to drain in a sieve for 20 minutes. Push as much water out as possible with your hands, then mix it with some Greek yogurt, pepper, lots of chopped ramp leaves, and some fresh mint.

Serve the hot kibbeh and the tzatziki atop a big salad with grilled pita points.

Fettuccine with Ramps and Ricotta: Boil some good fettuccine in heavily salted water. Meanwhile, saute an enormous handful of chopped ramp leaves in butter with salt. Add a great wodge of ricotta. Drain the pasta when it is nearly done, and add it to the skillet of ramps along with a generous ladle or two of the pasta cooking water. Toss until the pasta is coated with the sauce, the sauce is thickened and the pasta is thoroughly cooked.

Ramp Fried Rice: Add plenty of chopped ramp leaves to the garlic/ginger/scallion mix that you use to start a standard fried rice.

I am saving most of the bulbs to pickle, per a Lee Bros recipe. We’ll see how they come out! I love ramps!


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