April brings one of the first green vegetables of the year: ramps!
April is the time for hunting for Wild Leeks, more commonly called ramps! Ramps originate in cool, forested regions and thrive in the Rochester region. The tender greens offer a first chance for cooks to use local spring vegetables. Unlike their more common, cultivated brethren, including scallions, onions and garlic, ramps can’t be found at the supermarket, but offer a delicious wild treat. Look for soil habitats that are sandy, moist and often on hillsides and near streams. If you don't want to search for them yourself, you can also buy them from Alex at the Rochester Public Market. But get there early as they sold out last week.
|Ramps add wonderful, pungent flavor to soups, egg dishes, casseroles, rice dishes and potato dishes. Use them raw or cooked in any recipe calling for scallions or leeks, or cook them in a more traditional way, scrambled with eggs or fried with potatoes. Since ramps aren't cultivated in the way leeks are, they're much easier to clean. Just cut off roots, rinse thoroughly, and scrub off any excess dirt on the bulbs. |
Ramps aren't available for long, but you can chop and freeze them for cooked dishes. The green tops are milder in flavor and are usually used along with the bulbs.
There are many ramp recipes available on the web. Try this recipe for Potato and Ramp Soup, or this Bacon, Tomato and Ramps Quiche.
Or for a decadent night in, here's a recipe for a Ramp-Mushroom sauce for Salmon that is to die for!
Bring an ounce of dried wild mushrooms (we used purple winecaps) to a boil in 1/2 cup white wine, like a Finger Lakes Reising. Let sit for 10 minutes and then remove the mushrooms. Strain the liquid to remove any grit.
In a small pan saute one chopped clove of garlic in 1/2 stick butter for a minute. Pastured butter is best! Add 1/2 cup sliced ramp leaves sliced across in 3/4 inch strips.
Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until the the liquid is reduced by half. Add 1/4 c heavy cream and reduce a little further. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Grill enough salmon for two until done and serve covered with the cream.
Serve with a garnish of fresh chopped ramp leaves with lemon or orange zest.
You can buy ramps from Alex at the public market