Ramps: the Ephemeral Vegetable of Spring

Yesterday, my Mom and I were discussing all the wonderful things we are growing in our respective gardens this year. When I told her I was growing beets, I could sense her disdain. She grew up on the canned goopy sweet Harvard beets. Still today, she doesn’t like beets – even done the right way! I grew up with “no” beets, so as I was introduced to them as an adult in the form of roasted beets, I grew to adore them very quickly! They are magnificent! My Mom feels the same about asparagus – growing up on blasé, mushy canned garb – it pales in comparison to fresh asparagus  lightly coated in olive oil and grilled until there are char marks on them, perfectly seasoned with sea salt and served with a bit of fresh shaved parm. Nothing quite like it! The epitome of scrumptious!

I was looking this morning for new things I could plant in my garden by perusing recipe websites. I came across recipe after recipe calling for ramps. At first I seriously thought it was a misprint. But after seeing numerous recipes calling for this magical spring delicacy, I had to know more!

While I consider myself a connoisseur of good food and a culinary adventurer, I sadly, did not know anything about ramps. They are simply wild leeks, spring onions with a garlicky flavor. They are the first spring vegetable around and they are in season about 3 days. They cry out to be roasted and fried and cooked into other wonderful concoctions.  I had not, as yet seen any in the markets – but in my defence, I live on the west coast and ramps are grown decidedly, on the east coast. You can grow them here — from seed……. and wait for years for them to naturalize and spread out into large colonies so you don’t eat them all in one shot! I don’t think I am that patient. But I am all for any vegetable that I can roast to a perfect hint of caramelization! After a long winter, people are anxious for fresh grown veg. And ramps, unlike other chef trendy veg like fiddlehead and morels, do not disappoint!  If you are so lucky as to find some ramps in your farmers market this spring – give them a try and blow off those winter blues!

Rockin’ Roasted Ramps

Bunch of ramps trimmed and cleaned well (make sure all the sneaky dirt is gone)

Toss them in olive oil

Season to taste with freshly ground sea salt

Put it on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for about 15 minutes

OR

Toss in a heated cast iron pan until the bulbs are tender and the leaf edges begin to crisp up.

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Gardening Fail

I usually envision myself as a pretty good Mom, teacher, cook, and gardener. The reality is probably a bit different – but at least I try!

My last “try it” adventure happened “off the cuff” with really no planning at all. Therein probably lies most of the problem. My hubs and I were cleaning out all our “take it to the dump” stuff. We had even rented a truck for it. Thinking out loud I said, “hey I’d sure like a garden again” – and before I was even done with the sentence my sweet husband was off to the dirt mart to get a load of dirt. When he came back he smacked together some super-long boards and quick as a wink, I had a large, new raised garden bed.

What I had failed to do was research dirt. I mean, how hard could that be? Apparently, I was naive. The guy at the dirt store told my hubs he needed compost for the garden and promptly sold him a whole heap of stinky, smelly stuff. I figured it was a blend of compost and regular soil – but I was wrong yet again. So after planting my little seeds and seedlings they were all consumed by the hot, smelly stuff in my raised bed. Live and learn I guess.

What I learned – research FIRST – I am like the research queen around here – why didn’t I research it. Oy!! I understand that no matter how well you plan, sometimes things still go wrong – hence the quote “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray” – however, without ANY plans – you are definitely sunk!