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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ramps


Alliums are pretty much my favorite thing in the universe. Garlic, onions, shallots, leeks--I adore them all. And I am crazy about ramps.

These wild leeks are an early spring delicacy native to parts of the US. As ramps have become one of the trendy hallmarks of the local food movement, these wild leeks are being overharvested in much of the Northeast. Whole stands of ramps are being dug up for sale to NYC restaurants, and at big supermarkets like Whole Foods. (So, if you harvest ramps, do it responsibly--gather mostly the leaves. If you dig the bulbs, take no more than 1/3 of each clump). This threat to one of my favorite native foods has inspired me to try to establish a ramp patch in my yard. They grow on the forest floor, so if you have a shady, cool area on your property where most edibles don't thrive, ramps could be just the ticket.

 We waited all week to meet up with some friends who would show us the way to a local ramp patch. Of course, after weeks of dry weather, the day of our ramp excursion was cold and rainy. We, of course, went anyway. The ramps did not disappoint--the stand was quite large, and we felt comfortable harvesting a few bunches without making the slightest dent in the patch. I dug mine carefully, trying to keep them in the soil, so that they have a better chance of surviving transplant. I'll let you know if they make it.

 While most of the ramps we collected will hopefully live to see another spring, we couldn't resist eating some of them. Taking a tip from Hungry Tigress, I decided to try ramp pesto. I mostly followed this recipe from Food 52.


Here's what I used:

About 2 cups chopped ramps (steam 'em in the microwave for one minute)
1/2 cup walnuts (toasted)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
sea salt
pepper
juice of half a lemon

Wow. This pesto is probably only for true allium lovers. I'm not gonna lie--it's pretty stinky. But it is also super delicious. Just don't eat it on a first date.