Make the Most of Spring with Ramps
Ramp up your dishes with this spring vegetable
Ramp season is here, but it won't last long. Here's how to take advantage of ramps' distinct flavor while you still can.
Ramps are wild leeks native to the eastern regions of North America. They are often one of the first signs of spring, making an appearance in late March and early April, after the last snowmelt. Indigenous peoples in these regions, like the Cherokee, would use ramps as a tonic to renew and refresh after the long winter.
"It's a true sign that spring is in full swing." - Culinary Arts Chef-Instructor Chris Arturo
Ramps have a distinct flavor that sits somewhere between onions, garlic and scallions. Ramps' versatility and unique taste make them a chef favorite. As Culinary Arts Chef-Instructor Chris Arturo puts it: ramps are gold.
"I love the slightly floral, yet smooth garlic flavor they impart," Chef Chris says. "I'm always making a ramp vinegar or tincture to provide a garlicky umami to dishes."
If you want to get the most out of this sweet spring vegetable, you need to act fast. The ramp season doesn't last long — by summer, the leaves begin to wither. Chef Chris suggests stocking up while you can. "I usually buy tons of them and pickle them to use for the following year," he says.
Since the flavor of ramps resembles that of onions, garlic and scallions, they can often be used as substitutes in recipes that call for those ingredients (and vice versa). In the recipe for haricots verts with ramps below, you'll notice that scallions can take the place of ramps if none are available. However, scallions would not provide the same garlicky notes as ramps. Ramps can add layers of flavor to dishes such as this one, which calls for only a handful of ingredients.
Check out the full recipe for haricots verts with ramps below.
Haricots Verts with Ramps
Yield: 6-8 servings
- 1 ½ pounds haricots verts, trimmed
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces ramps* (1 bunch), trimmed and thinly sliced
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from ½ lemon)
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
*If ramps are not available, substitute 1 bunch (4 ounces) scallions.
- In a 1-gallon pot, bring 3 quarts of water to boil with 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Prepare ice bath.
- Blanch haricots verts until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer haricots immediately to ice bath. Drain in colander.
- In 12-inch sauté pan, heat oil over medium flame, add ramps, mushrooms and remaining salt. Sweat until vegetables are tender.
- Add haricots verts and heat to warm through.
- Add lemon zest and juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with almonds.