When Bloggers Go Foraging, It’s Ramp and Roll, Baby!

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Chef Jon Pratt, co-owner of Peter Pratt’s Inn , Ümami Café, and Tagine (check out last week’s NYT review here!) is a man of many talents—and one of them is foraging!

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.

The Making of Ramp Pesto
Ramp Pesto
Margaret’s Ramp Pesto

Makes about 1 cup of pesto

Ingredients

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!

ramp bulbs before cooking

ramp leaves

sautéeing ramp bulbs

sautéed ramps

Arlen’s Simple Sautéed Ramps

About 1 1/2 pounds ramps
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
White wine
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

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.

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About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

2 Comments

  1. Donna Monaco Olsen on

    Fabulous adventure and well written account. I was so sorry to miss out on the fun(but was on the beach eating the first lobster rolls of the season so not too sorry!)
    Can’t wait to pick some (at the farmer’s market) and try your creative uses. Thanks Jon!

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