Ramps on Everything
Following the strangely mild New York winter, ramp season came—and ended—very early this year. But that didn’t stop Chef Anthony Sasso from finding some of the last ramps available in New York City. Celebrated and hailed as the first springtime vegetable to appear in east coast farmers markets, ramps are a foraged wild onion that remind us food-obsessed New Yorkers that a season overflowing with local produce is just around the corner. Sasso, Chef du Cuisine at Casa Mono and also an ICE Recreational Instructor, had no problem luring recreational students to his sold-out class last week, Ramps on Everything, with a menu based entirely on the beloved perennial.
Building a menu around one single ingredient may sound boring, although Chef Anthony’s class was anything but as students prepared a meal with dishes that included ramps in a variety of ways— blanched, pickled, pureed, and sautéed. And in a true locavore fashion, no part of the ramp was wasted as Chef Anthony showed students how to use not only the bulb but also the leafy greens and roots of the ramps in his dishes.
For a show-stopping first course, the class sautéed whole ramps in olive oil and served them warm over fresh burrata cheese, topped with a spicy habanero oil. Students learned how to update a classic French onion soup by topping it off with a drizzle of ramp-infused oil made from blanched ramps blended with fresh parsley. And, for perhaps the most valuable ramp lesson of the night, Chef Anthony demoed how to quick-pickle ramps in a simple red wine vinegar brine. Those tasty pickles added a kick to his soft shell crab sandwich, which he topped with a cool avocado puree, and of course, pickled ramps. If you’re looking to preserve a bounty of ramps throughout the summer, Chef Anthony suggested pickling the white bulbs and freezing the leaves in plastic storage bags. You’ll have ramps on hand for compound butters, dips, salads, and vinaigrettes!
While ironically most students commented that they took Chef Anthony’s class to learn exciting new ways to cook with ramps, they’ll have to wait until next April when ramps will once again welcome spring in New York. In the meantime, you can use this recipe to pickle pearl onions, carrots, beets, turnips, and the bottoms of green onions.
- 2 cups red wine vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 6 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 3 tablespoons chopped dill
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (more to increase heat)
- 4 whole cloves 16-20 ramp bulbs (white part, separated from leaf at the stem)
- Bring all of the brine ingredients to a boil.
- Place ramp bulbs in a container and add brine. Allow cooling.
- Cover and refrigerate. Pickled ramps will keep in the refrigerator indefinitely.
- For large ramps with a diameter larger than a penny, simmer them in the pickle brine until tender, and then set aside to cool.