I’m betting that a majority of you have never eaten, or maybe even seen, a ramp. But ramps are one of spring’s treasures! Ramps are a type of wild leek, which look like a scallion with wider leaves and whose flavor is both garlicky and oniony. A ½ cup serving is an excellent source of vitamin A, and gives a good dose of antioxidants vitamin C and selenium, plus the mineral chromium. Ramps only stick around for a few weeks each spring, and now is prime time in the northeast!
Ramps grow wild, and people often talk about “foraging” for ramps, rather than growing and harvesting them. They typically grow in wooded areas. If you have some land like this but no ramps, you can always buy seeds and start your own ramp patch! They grow in great quantities, but only for a short time and in the right environment. If you’re in the right place to forage for ramps, go out with your kids and pretend to be ramp detectives!
The flavor of ramps is quite pungent, so, while you can eat them raw, I’d recommend cooking them at least a little before eating, especially for kids. You can substitute ramps for leeks or green onions in recipes. One of the simplest ways I like to eat them is over whole wheat pasta or couscous. Chop and sauté a bunch of ramps in a pan (I also like to add broccoli rabe, too) with two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, and a pinch of sea salt and pepper, and use this as a sauce. The ramps will infuse the oil with lots of flavor, and the ramps themselves will be sweeter and more tender. Finish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and you’ve got a delicious meal ahead of you!
Did you know about ramps? Do you have any favorite recipes?
– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally byToday’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA