Ramps are a fair-weather bunch that make their appearance for only a few short weeks a year. Being from California, I had never tried them until I moved to the East Coast where they are more abundant. Their reputation preceded them when one day I heard a co-worker proudly announce: “The ramps have arrived!”
I discovered many perks of my job in the past month; one is that I walk through the country’s largest Farmers Market to get there. I saw a small bushel of these rarities one morning and was wooed by their bulbous bottoms and their light leafy tops. With ramps in hand, my mind started turning with ideas for what to do with them.
Since this was a new vegetable to me, I decided to keep things simple and let their flavors really come through. I sautéed up the bulbs first and then the leaves with a little olive oil and salt. Part of the leek family, the aroma was like a shallot or mild onion, with a little essence of garlic too. The greens were so delicate, it only took a minute to wilt. Their accompaniments were two poached eggs and a piece of toast. This was a simple and satisfying brunch with a special seasonal addition.
The other half of the bunch, I pickled to preserve past its short window of offering. To do this, in a small jar add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Add the sliced ramp bulbs and pour boiled vinegar over it. This will keep for weeks and can be used as a taco topper or paired with any other rich, meaty meal.