Monday, April 28, 2008

O'er The Ramp-arts I Go

The pale green blush of spring is here and it is well into ramp season. I spent Saturday traipsing (sneaking) around in the woods on the prowl for those tender but not shy wild onion relations. The finding was a little difficult at first, with alien-size skunk cabbage beginning to cover everything. I admit my heart was pounding as I hoped I wouldn't be seen and because those things are tricky to pull up. The bulbs are just deep enough and the pink throats so slender that you really have to dig so as not to snap off just the leaves.

A clump of ramps visible in the central foreground

They say this rabbit-eared wild vegetable tastes like garlic and onion, but it has its own flavor, very green in the beginning with a spicy garlic burn in the back. And they are not messing around, either.

Ramp Pesto

About 50 ramps
Small handful of piƱon (pine) nuts
a generous pile of Parmesan
a few long pours of olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

Clean ramps well (since they-and you- are covered in dirt, roots and slimy stuff) and chop roughly. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a paste forms. Yeilds about 3 cups. Toss into pasta, make bruschetta or freeze. You can also use ramps in quiches, to flavor oil, vodka, or anywhere you would use garlic, onions, or herbs.

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