Ramps — those petite, wild-growing cousins of the leek — have gone from regional harbingers of spring to cult celebrity over the past decade. Adding to their mystique, ramps cannot be cultivated, they must be foraged. You can buy them at farmer’s markets, or, even better, make friends with someone who lives in one of the damp, forested areas where ramps grow. We are lucky enough to have a ramp benefactor in here in the Martha Stewart offices, executive editor Yolanda Edwards. She tells us how ramps came into her life:
“We have a place in Sullivan County, which is about 2 1/2 hours from NYC. We’ve had it for over 10 years, and we go up almost every weekend. Around five years ago, my husband and I were at a hotel in Connecticut mthat had lots of ramps on the dinner menu, and then the next day, the chef showed us where they found them on the hotel property. (Ramps grow wild and have a short season, which is usually in the spring after the first warm spell.) Well, after that visit, the next weekend we were upstate we discovered that we had ramps on our property and they were under our nose all this time.
“The first year I found a couple of patches that were around 6 feet in diameter. Then the next year I discovered them up on the hill, and it was a huge area. Each year, I find more. What I do is I dig them up (it takes me many hours, but I love the work), every weekend, and I leave the smaller-bulbed ones for later harvesting. Usually I get a couple of huge buckets each weekend (not that we use them all — we give most of them away). One of my favorite ways to eat them is to saute them, chop them up, and put them into an omelette with goat cheese. I also love ramp pesto. But I think the very best way, which is our way to eat them year-round, is pickled, and in a martini!”
Here’s what some of the other Living editors like to make with their ramps:
“I roasted them in the oven, as per Anna [Kovel]’s suggestion, and served them along with hanger steak and roasted potatoes. Even my kids were impressed … unless it was my mom telling them the German name — Baerlauch (which translates into ‘bear leeks’).”
–Silke Stoddard, deputy crafts editor
“Pickle them for a Gibson!”
–Jennifer Aaronson, editorial director of food and entertaining
“I like them sauteed in butter with morel mushrooms. Then I eat them on pasta, or in risotto. Or I just spoon them into my mouth.”
–Kris Kurek, senior associate food editor
“My favorite thing is a pan-seared skirt steak, finished with some ramps and butter. I also like to make vinaigrette with minced ramps. Just use them in place of garlic or shallot.”
–Regan Dodson, kitchen manager
“I created a recipe for ramp and spinach pesto, and served it with spaghetti and shaved asparagus.”
–Jess Damuck, freelance recipe developer at Living and author of the blog Food = Love NYC
Get the recipe for Ramp and Spinach Pesto with Shaved Asparagus.