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Ramps


Sthitch
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Well, the smarty-pants cashier last night knew how much they were :angry:   I think they rang up about $18-19/lb.  My bunch ran me about $4...but the wonderful "mushroom man" gave me a very generous free sample of morels  :angry:   (which are running about $45/lb - but you wouldn't know it as they have no sign...grrr - major pet peeve with this store).  I'm thinking I came out ahead on that deal...

So now what do I do with these ramps?  Any favorite ramp recipes to share (whether they're foraged or bought :) )

I chopped them (with the exception of the really dark portions of the leaves which are not very tasty when raw) and added them to the herbs that I used to stuff my leg of lamb for Easter. They lent a very unusual, but delightful flavor to the meat.
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I have never had them, but last weekend at a high end (not named) DC restaurant ramps were listed as an ingredient on the menu.

The waiter said that they were very strong and was not recommending that dish because the ramps overpowered the dish.

Yes, it is a good thing when the wait staff can guide you honestly.

Are ramps normally that strong?

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I wound up using this recipe for Pasta with Ramps from Sally Scheider, featured on The Splendid Table. It's essentially braised ramps tossed with crushed red pepper and pasta. Very simple, quick, and the ramps are the emphasis of the dish.

I didn't have anywhere near the 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 lbs of ramps* called for in the recipe, but adjusted accordingly and it worked fine.

* That amount would have been a huge pain to clean - I think I had the same feeling DCFoodie did about cleaning fava beans.

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Are ramps normally that strong?

they are not that strong at buck's fishing and camping, accompanied by unwilted spinach, asparagus and a pinch of salt. i don't know what was done to tone them down, but this is a good introduction. however, they were funkier when they popped up with something i can't remember at palena recently. i prefer the funk. i had looked forward to finding some of these at the farmer's market on sunday and cooking them with pasta, but remembered on saturday that i would not be here. there is still spring in the dessert, but if you are looking for something to eat it is most likely quail. i have never gone out for cactus.

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There's a interesting article in today's NY Times about Fiddlehead Ferns and Ramps (both foraged & as an early cash crop for farmers).

A sidebar to the article has a good looking ramps & potato soup recipe (with bacon & cream) NY Times food section

Did anyone else read through the entire recipe and laugh when s/he got to instructions about what you're supposed to do with the bacon once it's cooked?

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Did anyone else read through the entire recipe and laugh when s/he got to instructions about what you're supposed to do with the bacon once it's cooked?

Yes, I did. What's "another" use? Why can't you just crumble it up and throw it back in the soup at the end? Do they think the BACON will ruin it? :)
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I ended up reading what Elizabeth Schneider has to say about ramps, including a recipe for ramps simmered in cream and mention of Fedilia's egg custard tart with wild leeks, asparagus and morels and Mario Batali's polenta with asparagus, prosciutto and ramps.

I combined a little from all of these ideas to make a risotto, using the white and red parts in lieu of shallots and stirring in the leaves sauteed in butter and a little heavy cream at the very end along with thin strips of uncooked prosciutto.

Quite good, though the little asparagus I added was superfluous and the ramps a bit more subdued than I would have liked.

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Ramps were surprisingly available at Eli's stand at Dupont Circle this past weekend, $3 a bunch, 2 for $5 during the final hour of the market. Apparently, someone has to climb a mountain out in the woods in West Virginia to fetch them.

Just cooked a thinly sliced red bliss potato in bacon fat. Threw in the ramp bulbs and then some blanched fava beans, the ramp greens, the two strips of bacon, crumbled and about two dozen leftover shelled mussels. Squirt of lemon juice. Salt and pepper. Piled into two tender, fluffy butterleaf lettuce leaves. Pretty good.

Looking forward to making tempura before the greens dissolve and either a goat cheese pizza or scalloped potatoes with ramps. Decisions, decisions...

Dame Edna picked up a bunch of broccoli rabe at Dupont last week and did the same potato/garlic thing. Just delightful. And, another reason to look forward to spring.
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I bought some ramps this weekend that are about the size and shape of scallions, with a bit more of a bulb. How much of the green is edible? I'm thinking of simmering with broth and serving over pasta -- any other suggestions beyond what's above?

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Go to eGullet where there's a thread or two.

Basically, you can eat the whole thing (for $5 you ought to). One of my favorites is described here somewhere (try a search with ramps and my name). Complements: potatoes and bacon or pancetta. Scalloped potatoes are really good with ramps sliced in small pieces and added in between layers. Great with carbonara or skip the egg and just sauté the sliced bulbs in EVOO & the fat from diced pancetta (thick piece). Add pancetta back to pan when pasta's almost done along with slivers of the leaves. Pour in a little stock if you want, then cream (light is fine) and combo pecorino and parmesan. (Smile at the cheese mongers at Whole Foods when you tell them Locatelli is the best Romano, what do they mean no one buys it so they're not carrying it anymore.) Restaurant Nora is serving them, I noticed, just as an accompaniment to lamb chops or steak. Braise in a little chicken stock and butter, separating the thoroughly cleaned bulbs from the greens since the former take a little longer to cook and the latter should be done in a minute or less.

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I caught Mario Batalli on Martha today and they highlighted ramps. Thier ramps looked like they had plucked them from Dupont! Mario explained that the bulb gets larger as the season progresses.

Here's a link to two recipes which they made today....

http://www.marthastewart.com/portal/site/m...0005b09a00aRCRD

http://www.marthastewart.com/portal/site/m...0005b09a00aRCRD

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2 Amy's had a special pizza last week that featured roasted ramps along with sausage and parmesan. I don't know if they were thrown on the pizza raw and then cooked right on top or prepared separately, but the high heat gave them a nice grill-like char and a little olive oil worked great. They were still very pungent and crunchy, but they didn't take over the pizza. Granted, the complimenting flavors were bold in their own right--italian sausage and a heavy handed portion of grated parmesan.

I think that simple prep with some high heat really works for the little guys.

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Suzanne Goin's method is to wrap the greens in foil still attached to the bulbs. She poaches the bulbs until just cooked, draping the foil-wrapped greens over the edge of the pot. When the bulbs are cooked, she unwraps the greens and briefly dips them into the boiling water. I have not tried this, but in concept, the method addresses the huge differential in cooking time between the bulb and greens rather ingeniously, keeping the ramps whole.

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While Zora writes, let me add that Odessa Piper made something a bit intricate, but quite simple, at a recent chef demo that was absolutely perfect for this transitional time of year at local markets. It reminded me of what Al Dente said recently about flavoring young Tuscan kale w ramps.

She topped caramelized apple slices w goat cheese and baby spinach that she sautéed w ramps. The apple slices were first placed on wilted leaves of tender young chard that was picked before the stalks had a chance to thicken; the leaves were then wrapped around the layers to form packets and sealed w a toothpick.

Even though I didn't see anything ramp-like on leftover spinach, the flavor of the wild leek was quite discernible. The pairing was great and would be perfect beside a lamb chop or steak, mushrooms and new potatoes.

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Suzanne Goin's method is to wrap the greens in foil still attached to the bulbs. She poaches the bulbs until just cooked, draping the foil-wrapped greens over the edge of the pot. When the bulbs are cooked, she unwraps the greens and briefly dips them into the boiling water. I have not tried this, but in concept, the method addresses the huge differential in cooking time between the bulb and greens rather ingeniously, keeping the ramps whole.

Good idear. I did something similar with some barely formed beets attached to their greens though I substituted your foil with my bare hands. A little uncomfortable, but it worked. The greens and my knuckles got slightly steamed so I guess I didn't need the brief dip you mention.

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When I was growing up in Southwest Virginia, the volunteer fire department at White Top Mountain held a ramp festival every year. A ticket bought you entrance to the festival where there was music, bluegrass mostly, crafts and things for the little kids (donkey rides, etc.) But you also got a mean ticket where the lunch/dinner was a quarter of grilled chicken (over giant pits of fire), cornbread and fried potatoes and ramps. Even nowadays, my mom will get some ramps from friends or family and fry them up with some taters. Ummmm, good!!! I really hope I can find some at the farmers market this weekend . . .

Cheers,

Marshall

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When I was growing up in Southwest Virginia, the volunteer fire department at White Top Mountain held a ramp festival every year. A ticket bought you entrance to the festival where there was music, bluegrass mostly, crafts and things for the little kids (donkey rides, etc.) But you also got a mean ticket where the lunch/dinner was a quarter of grilled chicken (over giant pits of fire), cornbread and fried potatoes and ramps. Even nowadays, my mom will get some ramps from friends or family and fry them up with some taters. Ummmm, good!!! I really hope I can find some at the farmers market this weekend . . .

Cheers,

Marshall

Go to Spring Valley Farm at the Dupont market this Sunday ;)

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In Ancient Egypt, the queen mates with the sun-god and thus a king is born, his reign legitimized by his divine birth.

Or hers, in the case of Hatshepsut (1473-1458 BCE), daughter of Thutmose I, who assumed the throne as both pharoah and queen.

Conforming to the architectural innovations of the New Kingdom, her funerary complex took the form of a rock-hewn tomb built into a cliff in Deir-el-Bahri, as opposed to the more familiar pyramids of the Old Kingdom that one finds in Giza.

Senenmut, the courtier who designed the complex, situated the temple at the summit of lushly gardened terraces one reached from the banks of the Nile through a processional space flanked by statues before ascending a series of ramps.

Ramps may no longer be available from Spring Valley Farm this late in the season, but if you go to Dupont Circle this Sunday, look for exquisite, fresh specimens gathered and bundled by New Morning Farm.

Not sure you want to cook them yourself? Dino's adds them to its risotto primavera.

(They'd be damn good next to a steak with crusty potatoes, too.)

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Count me as part of the "still don't get it" contingent. One of my dishes at Proof on Monday featured grilled ramps*. They struck me as a less edible scallion - tough and without much flavor - truly the "Emperors New Clothes" of the allium family. Almost as if they were something found by the side of the road. ;) I will continue forking over wads of cash for morels, strawberries, field tomatoes, and other farmer's market treats and leave the ramps to those who appreciate them.

*Same dish also featured risotto and pea shoots. A trend trifecta?

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Count me as part of the "still don't get it" contingent. One of my dishes at Proof on Monday featured grilled ramps*. They struck me as a less edible scallion - tough and without much flavor - truly the "Emperors New Clothes" of the allium family. Almost as if they were something found by the side of the road. ;) I will continue forking over wads of cash for morels, strawberries, field tomatoes, and other farmer's market treats and leave the ramps to those who appreciate them.

*Same dish also featured risotto and pea shoots. A trend trifecta?

I agree completely. When I see them at the market I always think expensive scallions. :) I think the limited availability has a great deal to do with it.

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Count me as part of the "still don't get it" contingent. One of my dishes at Proof on Monday featured grilled ramps*. They struck me as a less edible scallion - tough and without much flavor - truly the "Emperors New Clothes" of the allium family. Almost as if they were something found by the side of the road. ;)
Some of them don't have much more flavor than scallions, true. The good ones, though, have a much stronger/sharper flavor, to the point of being a little hot, and they're the ones that are worth seeking out. The best ones I've had so far this year were at Bar Pilar a couple of weeks ago - might be worth finding out where they're getting theirs.
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I agree completely. When I see them at the market I always think expensive scallions. ;) I think the limited availability has a great deal to do with it.

Ramps are new to me and I really enjoyed them when they first came into season, but boy, do they get stronger as they grow. I added mature ramps to potatoes and reeked of them all night.

I've been enjoying grilling and roasting spring onions a whole lot more.

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A big part of the appeal of ramps is that they are wild, and one of the earliest wild edibles to appear. If you read the article about wild food gathering in this week's WP Food Section, the subject of the article talked about the treasure hunt aspect of foraging. And the other big part of the appeal is that when you pick them yourself they are free. I agree that they are tasty when still relatively young, but have much less appeal when you have to pay a lot of money for them. I feel the same way about morels. Frankly, when they cost $35 or $40 a pound, I think they don't hold a candle in the flavor department to a chanterelle or a bolete (porcini). But if I can find them myself in the woods, there is no question about their deliciousness.

monavano--try blanching the more mature ramps before you mix them in with something else.

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Bumping this thread because ramps are back.

I just bought a couple bunches at the Crystal City farmer's market.

If anyone has any new revelations since 2008, post them!! :)

I bought a couple bunches there last week. I have pickled the bulbs and plan to saute the greens to go with potatoes or pasta. As I mentioned in another thread, had a fantastic ramp pizza over the weekend, which was excellent topped with a fried egg.

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Isn't there any concern about digging up wild ramps and the risk of losing this plant over time? Foraging for morels or berries is different because you're not eliminating that individual fungus/plant from the ecosystem. When a ramp is plucked out of the ground, that plant and any future progeny are down someone's gullet. I don't see how this plant can continue to survive when people are getting so ramped up (sorry, couldn't help it) to feed on these young, immature plants that haven't reproduced, yet.

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Very good point.

I was poking around on sites about hunting ramps and only one out of the 5 or so I looked at mentioned anything about over hunting.  Here's an excerpt:

If you are lucky enough to find some, please be respectful. Harvest only from large, healthy beds and take, at most, a fraction (some things I've read suggest 15% max) of the patch you've found. Due to the fact that the demand for these wild plants has been, shall we say, ramping up (sorry, I couldn't help myself) in recent years, there are concerns about overharvesting. If you want to know more, read this recent New York Times article on the topic. The good news is that these things are potent so you will not actually need to take very many plants.
 
 
 
I suppose it's not a big deal if people who know what they're doing are out harvesting them for restaurants and farmers markets.  Presumably they tend/hunt/maintain the same productive area(s), and only take a certain amount and leave the rest.  But when idiots like me start doing it, it could be bad news.
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When I looked into the sustainability of ramps, it is a murky issue.  One big issue is that warming and weather change seem to be a big driver in the changing of the range of ramps.  They seem to be decling at the edges of their growing area in the east coast.  Growers at Tuscarora as well as Eli at Srping Valley self report that their ramp patches seem to hold steady in size and productivity.  From what I have heard but not been able to verify is that Ohio Valley is seeing an increase in the range and supply of ramps.  Ramps can also be encouraged (wildcrafting) thru land management practices and transplanted.  On balance, I choose to use them but I buy them from companies who have a general outlook of supporting sustainability: Tuscarora, Dartagnan, Mikuni, Spring Valley.

It's a hard call.

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Bumping this thread because ramps are back.

I just bought a couple bunches at the Crystal City farmer's market.

If anyone has any new revelations since 2008, post them!! :)

13801975084_8200077ded_z.jpg

They go really well with eggs. I fried these in bacon drippings and butter. Ordinarily, I usually use leeks or greens like spinach, or beet greens.

13753442164_d72401972a_z.jpg

Ginger chicken broth, with ramps and baby spinach, and a fried farm egg

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Ramp pesto

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12 vegetable ragoí»t

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Olive oil-poached squid, with ramps, citrus zest and crispy roasted potatoes

I kind of adore them.

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Amazing dishes!  Amazing photos!  Did you prepare the dishes and take the photos?

I'm drooling.

Yes, I prepared everything and shot everything.

You're looking at photos taken over a 3-4 year period.

edited to add that the pesto, soup and fried eggs/bacon/ramps were from earlier this year. the ragout was from 2010 I think, and the squid from either 2011 or 2012. all of the pix are on my blog, linked in my signature.

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I'm usually pretty tuned into ramp season, but they seem especially prominent this year - has anyone else noticed this? It could be that they're simply catching on in popularity, but never before do I remember ramps being so ... everywhere.

On 4/25/2014 at 7:14 AM, porcupine said:

This is what they look like in a protected area:

post-554-0-46388500-1398424425_thumb.jpg

This is one of my favorite pictures.

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