Between dining in the city and freelancing for a farm share, I’ve been lucky to try quite a few diverse, delicious, and unique foods. But until this year, the often sought-after ramps have managed to escape me. If you’re familiar with ramps, you might know that they are notoriously tricky to procure. If you aren’t, well, therein lies the reason.
So what is the story with ramps? Why do they disappear from farmers markets almost immediately? Why are they coveted by chefs, touted when on menus, and WHY are they illegal in Canada?
No, it’s not because they’re not hallucinogenic or anything. Simply put, ramps have very limited availability. They can’t be grown domestically, and are only found by foraging in the wild. On top of that, they have a very short growing season – sometimes only a few weeks. The scarcity makes them a novelty, but that alone didn’t earn them their reputation. They are also seriously delicious. Ramps taste reminiscent of leeks and garlic, but they are sweet, smooth, and flavorful in a way that is entirely their own. They’re fantastic plain, sauteed in a little olive oil (see my recipe below), but also add a unique tone of flavor into any dish they’re in.
Where can you get your hands on some? I got them in my farm share last week, but they’re also popping up at farmers’ markets around the city, which are finally all open for the season. Try the Rittenhouse or Headhouse markets this weekend – just get there early!
• 1 bunch ramps
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• salt to taste
1. Clean ramps by placing in a bowl of water and swirling around, letting all the dirt or sand fall to the bottom of the bowl.
2. Once clean, remove and cut off the tip of the bulb with any roots. Leave the rest of the ramps whole.
3. Heat olive oil in skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat.
4. Add ramps and sauté in oil for 4-5 minutes, until very soft.
5. Season with salt and serve!