If one were to look at my bucket list, they would most likely come up with the idea that I may have a screw or two loose. This may or may not be the case, but one thing that has been on my bucket list for years, is foraging for ramps; the gorgeous cousin of the onion. The holy grail of wild edibles. I’ve spoken to several people that seem to come across them every spring like they’re weeds or something, but for me, the hunt hasn’t been so obvious. This spring however, I finally found them and it was like hearing angels sing Hallelujah. For real. I was star struck.
Although they have an unfortunate name, ramps are an en vogue vegetable that appear on hip restaurant menus and garner a high price tag at farmer’s markets. Sometimes called a wild leek, they look like scallions but with larger delicate leaves. They taste stronger than a leek, and are more pungently-garlicky than a scallion.
Look for ramps underneath dense deciduous wooded areas, and they generally grow on north-facing slopes. There are some look-alikes out there such as Lilly of the Valley, so make sure and smell them. If they smell like onion, then you’ve found yourself a ramp. If I were willing to bet, the reason for their popularity is because the season is so short; only from around early April to around mid to late May, depending how north you’re located. As temperatures get warmer, the leaves will turn yellow and die.
So, with my basket in tow, I started to forage. After reading article upon article about everything ramp-y, I carefully cut the stem, leaving the root bulb in the ground so the ramp can regerminate. And with every ramp I placed in my basket, my head was spinning with recipe ideas. One thing for sure, ramp butter was a must. Of course. Make a batch or two of ramp butter, roll it into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and it’s good in the freezer for up to a year. I mean, corn-on-the-cob with ramp butter. Perfectly grilled ribeye or a delicate piece of fish with a pat of ramp butter on top. Heck, you can even add to steamed vegetables and let it melt to utter goodness. Seriously. Click here for the ramp butter recipe.
Then I thought, how about raising the ante on ranch dressing and making a Ramp Dressing. Obvi. Serve over a salad or even with crudité. Delish. Click here for the recipe.
Since I haven’t met a dip or a chip I didn’t like, instead of french onion dip, how about a ramp dip. Hey, from one dip to another, I’m here to tell you that this ramp dip is amaze-balls. Click here.
Let ’em shine on their own. Sauté in a little olive oil and plate them up. So, so good. Ramps are beautiful delicate gems that are only in season for a short time. Go foraging for them and if you don’t find them, try again next year. At least you’ll get some exercise out of it. For me, I can finally check foraging for ramps off my bucket list.