Ramp It Up For Spring!

Remember about 10 years ago when kale steam rolled itself across the culinary world and how most people at the time didn’t even know what kale was? Well we are now recognizing a new green super star slowly emerging its way into our ever-changing world of healthy foods. We’re talking about Ramps, AKA wild leeks.

Ramps look like scallions and are part of the onion family. Their broad leaves make them more distinguishable from a traditional leek, along with a thin purple line that runs from the end of the leaf down into the bulb itself. They are smaller than a traditional leek but bigger in flavor. The bulbs have a wonderful flavor that is a cross between onion and garlic and the leaves are quite pungent as well.

Ramps are mostly found in the middle to the northern parts of the United states to the southeastern parts of Canada. Ramps have been known to create havoc among the great chefs because they are ephemeral and disappear, going dormant within a month or two. They are one of the first vegetables of the Spring, available as early as the end of March. Chefs franticly scramble trying to get them from the field to the table in their restaurants before their availability dwindles.

Ninety percent of all ramps are foraged, kind of like truffles, and not grown in organized gardens which gives them a more romantic exotic appeal. In fact, ramps are endangered in many parts of Canada and the US so it’s best to harvest responsibly. That means you either only harvest the leaves and leave the bulbs or if you harvest the whole plant from the root, only taking one or two from each cluster and leave the remaining bulbs in the ground.

Because of their ephemeral nature, ramps can be difficult to grow in a garden, but that is slowly starting to change. More and more you can find them in farmers markets and for a limited time in stores like Whole Foods.

We took a weekend trip to West Virginia recently and found them in a local farmers market.

 

 

We also saw them advertised on specials board at a local restaurant.

 

There are Ramp festivals in the Appalachian parts of the country that celebrate the almighty ramp during the month of April.

 

 

We took ours home and Kevin made a delicious Creamy Potato Ramp Soup. The flavor is something you’ve never had before. Beautifully creamy with a strong yet not overpowering garlic flavor.

So, if you are lucky enough to either find them to cook with or see them on a seasonal menu in a restaurant, try them! They are delicious in a variety of soups, quiches, pesto and other Spring vegetable dishes.

So Ramp it up for Spring folks!

Springtime Potato Ramp Soup

12Tbsp Margarine

2 bunches fresh ramps, chopped (about 4 cups chopped)

4 cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth

1tsp table salt, or more to taste

12 tsp black pepper, freshly ground or more to taste

1 pound(s)uncooked Yukon gold potato(es), peeled and cubed

12 cup(s) fat free sour cream

3 tsp chives, fresh, snipped

  1. Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat;
  2. Add chopped ramps and sauté until ramps turn translucent and start to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add broth, salt and pepper to pot; increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
  4. Add potatoes and reduce heat to low; simmer, partially covered until potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. Puree soup in pot using an immersion blender (or working in small batches, puree the soup in a blender, careful not to splatter the hot liquid).
  6. Adjust seasonings if necessary (we added about 1 tsp of salt here)
  7. Stir in sour cream and garnish with chopped ramp leaves.

Yields 1 cup per serving

Calories 130 | Fat 3g | Saturated Fat 1g | Carbs 23g | Fiber 1g | Sugars 3g | Protein 5g

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