Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm a Tramp for the Ramps

On this fine summer-esque day in New York, I have awoken to an entirely new wonder of the world:

These distant relatives of the onion, also called wild leeks, spring onions, or ail des bois (ooh la la), are cripplingly delicious. Addictive, even. Considered delicacies by the quebecois and West Virginians (can you guess which of these distinct populations fries their ramps with potatoes in bacon grease?), this rare breed of veggie (an officially protected species under Quebec legislation, mind you!) has a following of aficionados who organize delectable gatherings such as the annual "Feast of the Ramson" in Richwood, WV and the "International Ramp Festival" of Elkins, WV, which features a cook-off and ramp eating contests (!!)...

But you don't have to go to West Virginia to find these beauties; I snagged a bunch this afternoon while ambling through the Union Square Farmer's Market. They'll cost you a pretty penny, but oh boy if they aren't worth it!

Basic cooking method:
Clean off the slimy thin membrane at the bulb base and trim off the hairy root end. Cut the bulb from the leaf, thinly slice the bulb on the bias (as you would a scallion) and sautee in some oil, then add the leaves and cook until just wilted.

Simple but tasty:
You might try ramps and spaghetti, with some red chili pepper flakes,
Or ramps and scrambled eggs,
Or salmon on a bed of steamed ramps,
Or a salad of wild rice, slivered almonds, and flash-sauteed chopped ramps in a lemon vinaigrette!


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