So aside from thinking of as many ramp puns as we could, we three—Patrice Costa, Margaret Rizzuto and Arlen Gargagliano—had the privilege of learning from Jon Pratt about these perennial leek-meets-onion plants that are in the allium family (also called wild leeks or wild onions) that grow wild in our area during the months of April and May. He not only showed us how to get these lovely plants out of the ground, which we’ll share momentarily, but also pointed out that everything—from the spicy leafy greens to the sweet garlicky bulb—can be used in cooking.
Here, according to our expert Jon Pratt, are the top three tips for ramping:
1) Clear the surrounding area of leaves or other plant debris.
2) Using a garden hoe (better than the little spade Arlen brought!), dig around the plant, and—without pulling on the greens too much—gently remove the delicate greens and white bulb.
3) Take what you need, and leave the rest! According to proper “Ramp Foraging Etiquette” for the purpose of sustainability one should take no more that one third of any given clump of ramps.
Can we tell you where we found them? Sorry—but we are sworn to secrecy. But we can tell you that they are, thankfully, all around us here in the tri-state area, but you better move quickly because ramp season ends pretty soon. One other tip: before you venture on any foraging, and in this case your own ramp and roll adventure, make sure you find someone who knows which of those wonderful wild greens are, in fact, ramps!
A little ‘How To Video’ with Chef Jon Pratt — click here.
So what did we do with our ramps? Well, you’ll have to visit Peter Pratt’s to find out what Jon did with his, but Patrice went for pickling, Margaret for ramp pesto, and Arlen for a simple ramp sauté.
Makes about 1 cup of pesto
12 ramps cleaned and rough chopped including bulbs and leaves
1/2c toasted pignoli seeds aka pine nuts
1# square cube of locatelli cheese2 cloves of roasted garlic
1/2 cup of olive oil (add olive oil little by little to desired consistency — when using as a salad dressing I’ll usually mix in a little more oil)
Salt & pepper to taste
Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend — what could be easier. Use on seafood, vegetables, crostini, salads — okay, everything!
Arlen’s Simple Sautéed Ramps
About 1 1/2 pounds ramps
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the roots of the ramps, and discard. Wash them well, and remove the membrane from the bulbs.
Separate the bulbs from the leaves. You can keep the leaves whole, or cut them into two or three sections.
Sauté the bulbs for about 2 minutes or until they become translucent. Then add the leaves, add the splash of wine, and sauté for another 2 minutes or until the leaves wilt. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pickled Ramps from Patrice Costa recipe courtesy of Chef de Cuisine, Scott Fratangelo at Harvest on Hudson
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp mustard seeds
3/4 cup champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp Sambal chile paste (or Sriracha or even hot pepper flakes)
Heat almost to boiling, let cool and cover ramps.