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Goodbye Ramps, See You Next Year!

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Well, any ramp-haters out there will be happy: Ramp season is winding down and you don't have to hear about them or eat them until next March or April, depending on the weather. But I am going to miss them.

I like them so much. I get excited because after a few months of winter roots and braises, it signals the coming of greens and wild things that have been hibernating all winter and some lightness in our cooking. And my birthday is close to the date they come out, so that's happy.

But after talking with some friends recently, I discovered another reason they feel so special. They are one of the very few things that we haven't cultivated. Think about it. Spring conjures up thoughts of peas & asparagus. But on menus all across America you can find them all year round. So when something like ramps comes around, with their garlicky-oniony flavor that goes well with everything, I get excited. Because they aren't cultivated, there is no getting them after they are gone. Sure, we can pickle them (as we do at Telepan for our house Gimlet - yum!). But that immediate "into hot olive oil, toss with pasta" kind of flavor will be gone and won't be back until next Spring. How many vegetables can you say that about? Not too many these days. And the fact they are local makes them even fresher and better.

So, you'd better hurry. Because very soon all the ramps will be gone. And they won't be heard from again until next Spring.

Here is a recipe if you are going to miss them

"Faux" ramps

(for 4 people)

This no-frills recipe almost re-create the great flavor of ramps
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic-minced
2 bunches scallions-trimmed and washed
1 jalapeno-chopped, with or without seeds(optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable stock or water

-pour oil into a large sauté pan. Over high heat, heat the oil and as it starts to shimmer, add garlic, scallions and jalapeno. Sauté until garlic and ramps get lightly browned. Add salt, toss. Then off the flame add stock to prevent further browning.

(of course if you can still get them, sub ramps for scallions)