Good lord, I love ramps. Last weekend ramps arrived at the farmer’s market (look at the beautiful bunch I have since devoured on Instagram). In my book, this marks the official arrival of spring. My girlfriend even bought her first bunch to try, another solid score for the wild allium team.
Ramps are ready as the weather warms in late-April. They are also known as wild leeks, spring onions, wild garlic, among a variety of other epithets. Ramps thrive until about mid-May, or whenever the leaves block out sun from reaching the forest floor. Ramps grow just below the soil surface, sprouting broad and smooth leaves with a purplish-red, scallion-like shoot. These sexy greens are a delicacy in this house as they rarely last more than three weeks!
The flavor this year is particularly out of this world. The peppery, crunchy, garlicky, oniony green can be eaten raw or cooked. They’re a great substitute for onion or add ramps for an extra kick-in-the-balls kind of flavor. Personally, I like to shove a handful in my mouth and go to town, but they make for an intriguing ingredient in all different fashions.
Also, fun fact: The city of Chicago’s name stems from the observation of dense ramp growth near Lake Michigan in the 17th century. According to explorer Robert Cavelier’s comrade, naturalist-diarist, Henri Joutel, “We arrived at a place which is named Chicagou, which, according to what we learned, has taken its name from the quantity of garlic which grows in this district, in the woods … a species of garlic in quantity which is not entirely like that of France, having its leaf broader and shorter, and is also not so strong, though its taste closely approaches it but is not like the little onions or the onion of France.”
Who freaking knew?! Love me some tall tales.
Get to your farmer’s market this weekend and be on the lookout for your own bunch. There’s a particular vendor at our market that sells ramps, so if it’s not at your usual market, ask around. Someone’s gotta be in the know! It’ll be worth the scavenger hunt.
Here’s five ramps recipes to try out this weekend!!
1. Wannabe Shrimp + Grits with Rampscuits by Moi
2. Spring Greens Soup with Caramelized Ramps by Mill City Farmers Market
3. Spring Ramp Risotto by Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
4. Ramp Salad with Lemon-Ramp Vinaigrette by Jan’s Sushi Bar
5. Asparagus and Ramp Soup with Yogurt by Serious Eats