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  • The Chopping Blog

Ramps: A Love Story

Laura S
Posted by Laura S on Apr 3, 2024
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Last year, I visited friends in Iowa City as spring was breaking through the Midwest frost. On a hike, they pointed out patches of green clustered under large trees: ramps. Tons of them! The trendiest allium on the market, the one that sticks around for a hot sec, just long enough to get everyone excited enough to fork over $7 a bunch at the market, and then goes out of season. We foraged some, and my love affair with ramps was cemented.

ramps-1Also called spring onions, ramps are thin-stemmed plants with a wide green leaf and a distinctive smell that fades slightly once harvested. Every spring, when the season rolls around, they’re covered voraciously by food media. When I first learned about them, I wrote them off as another trend, but when we cooked the ramps that we had foraged, I fell in love. 

We made pesto out of the vibrant green leaves, sautéed some of the stems, and pickled the rest. The chicken and rice dish we made absolutely sang with the different flavors that were pulled out with the simple addition of this ingredient. And the best part? At the end of the night, I realized that we had used nearly every part of the plant—nothing had gone to waste. Whether that was because of the nature of the ramp itself or because we had foraged it and been able to use it at peak freshness, I can’t say. But what I can say is that it helped me look at the fresh foods I get from the farmers market with an eye towards reducing waste. 

If you can snag some ramps this spring, I’d encourage you to buy a bunch. Their flavors are delicious, their novelty is fun, and the season is short: you only ramp once a year, so lean in! If you do find them, here are my three favorite ways to enjoy: 

1. Make them into a sauce.

Whether you turn your ramps into a pesto or just cook them down with lemon zest and anchovies for a simple pasta sauce, the ramps will add a flavor somewhere between fresh garlic and leeks to any carb-heavy dish. I’ve had ramps baked into focaccia, made into a smooth, vibrant green sauce at Daisies, and drizzled on top of pizza in the form of a fresh, zingy pesto. You can’t go wrong! 

Ramp Pasta2. Pickle them!

Once you’ve figured out how to use the greens in a sauce, thinly chop the stems down to the roots and add them to your favorite pickle mixture. I love these pickled ramps mixed into my scrambled eggs, on top of cream cheese on a bagel, or tossed into a spring salad. 

3. Leave them whole.

Don’t want to ruin the aesthetic? Simply chop off the roots, clean the ramps, and sauté them whole in your favorite olive oil or butter. You can serve them as you would whole leeks, broccolini, or any other green veggie. Add some fun sauces, and this could even be your new vegetarian main!

If you are looking for more vegetarian meal ideas, The Chopping Block has some upcoming classes you won't want to miss!

See our class calendar

Topics: seasonal, season, onions, ramps, spring, onion, spring onion

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