Ramping Up for Ramps

Every Spring my fellow chefs and I eagerly await ramps - nature's trumpet blast that Spring has actually arrived. Since these wild alliums/leeks are foraged, highly perishable and scarce, we plan nervously and excitedly the many ways we will use them "this year", to correct any misdeeds or lack of preparedness from last year. Ramps are the New Year's Eve party of vegetables. And you hope you get invited to this exclusive party. We guard our sources like our social security number, maybe even closer. We get a little nuts but ramps are one of the first Spring vegetables and have such a fleeting moment. Asparagus lasts a while but ramps, you're lucky if you get two weeks. If they were cultivated perhaps the anticipation would not be so great. But they are wild and we are crazy... for them. 

For long term preservation, you can pickle them, of course. I like making a compound butter with them, squirreling away several sticks of it in the freezer to prolong the enjoyment. For immediate enjoyment, I love making a green pasta sauce with them with a little cheese and maybe a few mushrooms. I dice the ramps and sauté them with a shallot, some mild flavored mushrooms and make a sauce with these vegetables, some pasta water and cheese.

This year I will make a ramp flavored fresh pasta. I like making pesto with them as well. Ramp leaves are a little fibrous so it's best to dice them or put them in the food processor however you use them.  Ramps are great in biscuits and bread and anything, really, you'd think to put an onion into. 

Last year at the Doylestown Farmers Market we were lucky to have Castle Valley Mill with us for opening day. They have ramps on their property and joined us for one day only to sell ramps and their other products (stone ground wheat flour, corn flour, grits, polenta). We're keeping our fingers crossed they will join us again, if not opening day - April 20th - then the second week of the market - April 27th.

We'll anxiously await the ramps being ready like a mother on her due date. And "this year" we'll BE ready.  

By Chef Kelly Unger of The Rooster & The Carrot Cooking Studio, farm to table cooking classes in historic Carversville. Visit her website to view the current class schedule and register online at  www.theroosterandthecarrot.com.

Chef Kelly is a Board Member of BCFA and along with Rhiannon Wright (Market Manager) manages the Doylestown Farmers Market on for BCFA.  

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