Ramp up the flavor

Ramps & Cheddar Grits

It's ramp season in the U.S. If you aren't familiar with these pungent alliums, Food & Wine provides everything you need to know. Also known as wild leeks, ramps grow wild everywhere from the Southern U.S. to Canada. They are known for their strong flavor, which "falls somewhere between onions and garlic, with an earthy, slightly funky aroma," according to Food & Wine, while Saveur notes that you can substitute ramps for scallions, garlic or onions in many recipes.

Once relegated mainly to Appalachian byways, ramps are now prized by chefs across the U.S. and have found their way into many upscale menus. Online recipes for ramps are more abundant than the actual product, which has a decidedly short season: overall, the season runs from April to June, but usually for only a few weeks in each locale.

One characteristic of ramps that isn't frequently mentioned in the online recipes, however, is that they have a tendency to...well, let's say 'perfume' an eater for several hours after consumption. Of course this isn't a problem if everyone around you is eating them, which makes ramp festivals very popular.

Naturally, the EYB library is chock full of recipes for ramps. Here are several of the most popular recipes featuring this unique product:

Ramp carbonara from Food52
Ramp and buttermilk biscuits with cracked coriander from Bon Appétit
Spaghetti with ramps from Epicurious by Gourmet
Pickled ramps from Saveur
Ricotta crostini with pickled ramps and crisp pancetta from Food & Wine

Photo courtesy Saveur/Anna Stockman

5 Comments

  • Rinshin  on  5/5/2014 at 12:49 AM

    I sure wish I can taste this.

  • ellabee  on  5/5/2014 at 3:46 PM

    I'm from, and still living in, an Appalachian area. People here view with amazement and amusement the current hipster rage for a food that was regarded as pure hillbilly until recently. A local gardening friend was just joking as we weeded her driveway that surely wild onions are the Next Big Thing. Surely, blanched and seasoned, they couldn't be any stronger than ramps... and you can't beat the price. <g>

  • Rinshin  on  5/5/2014 at 6:20 PM

    So, does it taste like garlic chives ie nira?

  • ellabee  on  5/5/2014 at 9:42 PM

    Ramps? Not quite like garlic chives;, they're at the same time not as fiery and a little funkier. Do people eat the whole cooked garlic chive down to the 'bulb' the way they do scallions, green onions, and ramps? I'm only familiar with using the leaves chopped in pad thai and a few other dishes.

  • Rinshin  on  5/6/2014 at 9:59 PM

    Yes, we do eat the bulbs as well. Great in pickles too.

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