You know it's officially spring when food bloggers, restaurants you follow on social media and farmers market patrons can't stop talking about ramps. Ramps, also known as spring onions, offer a unique aroma and flavor that is a cross between onion and garlic. This perennial wild onion has a white tuber, similar to a scallion, a burgundy stem and wide green leaves that resemble lily of the valley. In addition to their beauty, ramps offer a variety of usages. They can be used cooked or raw, just like an onion. Here are a few ramp recipes that caught our attention:
Breakfast Bowl with Ramps, Asparagus and Lemon Herb Sauce (via Sweet Paul)
4 thick slices of country style bread, cubed
12 stalks mini asparagus, cut in 3
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 bunch fresh mint
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts + extra for serving
juice from 1 lemon
grated zest from 1 lemon
pinch of red chili flakes
1/2 cup Olive oil
1) Preheat oven to 380F.
2) Place the bread, asparagus and ramps on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3) Bake until golden, about 12 minutes.
4) Place herbs, pine nuts, lemon, chili and oil in a blender and blend until smooth. If its to thick just add a little more oil.
5) Bring a pot of water to the boil and add a little vinegar, poach the eggs for 3 minutes.
6) In a bowl start with the bread, then asparagus and ramps, then the egg, pine nuts and finish off with the lemon herb sauce.
1) Cleaning ramps is a bit of work, but it's worth it! Fill a large bowl with cold water, then place your ramps in the water. Swish them around to remove as much dirt as possible, then remove them from the bowl and give them a second rinse under running water to remove any remaining grit. Change the water and do the same with your second bunch of ramps. Place the ramps on a dry paper towel, then top with another paper towel and pat out as much water as possible
2) Clean the ramps by removing the tip of each stalk. Set aside (don't slice them - they're perfect as is).
3) In a heavy bottomed skillet, heat your butter over medium-high heat. Swirl around until browned and nutty, about 3-4 minutes. Add the ramps to the browned butter and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until the ramps are lightly charred and wilted. Serve with your favorite protein as a side, or enjoy them on their own.
1 smallish fennell bulb (white + green parts), diced
1 medium spring onion (or white onion), diced
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1 white potato, peeled and diced
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of salt (depending on how much salt you like - I err on more for soup)
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional, for a kick)
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
2 cups of white (cannellini) beans (I found that a good quality -organic- canned bean worked well for this)
6 cups of water
3 handfuls of leafy greens (I used a somewhat exotic mix of baby kale, baby bok choy, and young broccoli, but you can use whatever leafy green you like and have available. Kale, spinach, swiss chad, regular bok choy would all work well)
For the Wild Ramp Pesto:
about 10 ramps (white + green parts) cleaned and diced
1/3 cup of almonds, lightly toasted
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
a small handful of arugula (optional, if you have some handy)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
a few cracks of black pepper + a pinch of red pepper flakes
1/3-1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1) Get the soup started:
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the fennel and onion. Cook for several minutes until they have softened.
Then add the garlic, potato, salt, thyme, and red pepper flakes, stir, and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the beans and the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce to a simmer.
Simmer for 60-90 minutes.
2) While the soup is simmering, prepare the pesto:
Add all of the ingredients for the pesto, except for the oil, to a food processor and pulse several times until the ingredients are finely chopped.
Then, add in the olive oil in a slow stream until it is emulsified.
Taste and adjust any seasoning as necessary.
3) Finish the soup, and serve:
After the soup has been simmering for a while, taste and make sure they flavors are to your liking. If it is too watery, let it simmer a bit longer to develop more flavors, but I usually find it is good after an hour.
Then, add the greens, and stir until they wilt. This should only take about 2-5 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat.
Then serve by ladling the soup into bowls and adding a spoonful (or more if you like) of the pesto on top.
This will keep well for several days in an air-tight container in the fridge. If you end up with extra pesto, you can store that as well for about 10 days. The pesto goes well on all sorts of things from bread, to eggs, or tossed with vegetables.