This seared ramps recipe is simplicity itself. Nothing more than fresh ramps (of course), olive oil or–better yet–bacon drippings, and sea salt.
Adapted from Alex Guarnaschelli | Personal Collection, 2010
Available during April and sometimes early May, depending on the particular year, ramps appear to be scallions in miniature, save for a swath of lavender around their midriff. Their bewildering taste is an uncanny combination of garlic and leek with a hint of chive and is a much anticipated—and perhaps acquired—taste. These simply seared ramps have a particular fondness for eggs, steak, sea scallops and any mild white fish, poultry, and, gotta love ’em, potatoes.–Renee Schettler
☞ READ THE POST: What are ramps? And why do people go crazy for them?!
HOW DO I SELECT RAMPS?
Selecting ramps is simple. Just grab a bunch. That’s it. Unless they look incredibly wilted, they’re gonna be fine. Expect a little mud, as that’s the terroir that’s friendly to their growing season. They’ll last several days when kept in a resealable plastic bag, although they’re best used fresh, given that their pungent garlicky overtones tend to invade the rest of the fridge. Just before cooking, give them a good rinse under cool running water and finish with a sharp shake.
- 1 bunch ramps roots lopped off, bulbs and leaves left intact, rinsed, and patted dry
- Olive oil or bacon drippings
- Coarse sea salt
- Heat a large, preferably cast-iron, skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add a tablespoon or so of the oil or bacon drippings, tilt to coat the skillet, and wait about 30 seconds.
- If using slender, pencil-thin, first-of-season ramps, place several ramp bulbs in the pan, carefully draping the greens along the edges of the skillet (without letting them catch fire from a gas flame), and cook, turning once, until lightly charred and almost tender throughout, 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the size. Gently nudge the ramp greens into the skillet, fanning them out as much as possible. Cook the leaves just until softened but not completely wilted, 30 to 60 seconds.If using ramps that are from mid- to late-ramp season and have a pronounced bulb at the bottom, trim the leaves from the bulbs around the neck, where the white fades to purple. Toss the bulbs into the skillet and cook, turning as needed, until lightly charred and almost tender throughout, 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the size. Toss the ramp greens into the skillet. Cook, tossing occasionally, just until softened but not completely wilted, about 60 seconds.
- Transfer the ramps to a platter and sprinkle them with coarse sea salt. Repeat with the remaining ramps, wiping the skillet out and adding oil or drippings as necessary.
How to make ramps last a little longerWhile there's no way to actually extend ramp season, turns out there's a simple way to minimize the bellyaching and bemoaning that goes along with their disappointing disappearance after several short weeks. Simply freeze them. That's what LC Recipe Tester and Community Moderator Dan Kraan does. He saves a batch of fresh ramps every year, trimming the roots off the cleaned ramps and freezing them in a single layer on a baking sheet before transferring to a resealable plastic bag. If you freeze the whole plant, cautions Kraan, be sure to chop the leaves soon after removal from the freezer, as the leaves wilt like spinach when they thaw. The greens won't exactly be like their fresh selves, so consider lopping them off and salvaging only the bulbs if you're not keen on disappointment. And, on a practical note, stashing only the bulbs takes up far less space in your freezer.
Originally published April 14, 2010