Nothing announces the end of gloomy winter and the coming of bright, bloomy Spring like ramps. Ramps resemble baby leeks, and taste like a cross between garlic and onion, only less pungent, more delicate green. Unlike leeks, ramps' green stalks are soft and
can should be eaten. They're certainly Spring's hot item among chefs and gourmandes, and the most ramp-obsessed folks have been known to shell out as much as 20 bucks a pound for 'em. Now, you won't find me telling you they're worth that much -- after all, they were once mistaken as weeds and people spent time trying to rid their gardens of them -- but they are mighty tasty, and quite versatile. However, as they're expensive, I'd use them wisely.
This May weekend was sadly wet, and we spent quite a bit of time indoors hoping for sun. Every so often the yellow showed its face for a fleeting moment, only to hide again behind the clouds. When taking an afternoon walk was pretty much out of the question, I decided to play with my ramps instead. I've been told they're great with asparagus in olive oil, or by themselves, but I don't have enough restraint to cook them plain. I knew I wanted to use butter, because let's face it -- nothing is worse for some butta in the pan. I did notice a pile of shallots in our potato/onion basket, and there's no combo like shallots and butter -- so I figured, as some ramps to the mix, and you might have some serious yum at your fingertips.
Next time I'd serve the whole thing atop a slice of toasted baguette. While the dish was incredibly tasty, it may have been heavy on the onion/garlic flavor without something else to balance it out. It'd also be delicious over fish or chicken, or in roasted potatoes. As with sauteed onions, there are endless possibilities for how to use the ramp-shallot mixture. Just don't drown its flavor in a tomato sauce or anything, ok?
Ramps in Shallot Butter
1 shallot, 1 bunch of ramps, 2 Tbsp. butter, fleur de sel or sea salt
Slice off the roots from the ramps. Slice shallot thinly; saute in 1 Tbsp butter. Add second Tbsp butter and ramps, unsliced. Toss in pan so that butter coats vegetables. Saute about 1-2 minutes, until stalks are soft. Add fleur de sel or salt to taste.