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Ingredient Spotlight: Ramps
Every year, many people search farmers markets, grocery stores, hip restaurants, and produce stands around their areas for the opportunity to taste one en vogue little vegetable that is only around for a few weeks each year during Springtime. Yes, we are talking about the onion-garlic-scallion-shallot Godzilla of the aromatic world, the Ramp.
What's the big deal? Truthfully, it is unclear. What we at The Sage do know, is that these little guys are super popular likely related to their short harvesting period. It's like the red velvet rope at an exclusive club - the popularity is solely due to it's exclusivity. It is also possible that, because they are foraged, they carry an air of adventure and elusiveness. If you happen to get your hands on some ramps, it is best to not get too carried away to avoid the inevitable over-harvesting that comes with increasing popularity of foraged vegetables. Definitely enjoy in moderation, but beware the price: $5 for a small bunch (more at places such as Whole Foods).
By looking at the vegetable, you can see the bulb is similar to a scallion but the stalks are much more shallot/onion like trailing up to beautiful leaves with the thickness of leaks. After discarding/composting the roots, wash them thoroughly (remember they have been foraged) and use the ENTIRE vegetable. There are recipes that will call for just one part of the ramp, such as the bulb or leaves. Go the extra mile and search for recipes that will result in you not wasting any piece of these little delicacies.
A 1-cup serving of ramps delivers 30% your daily value of vitamin A (known for eye health), 18% of vitamin C (an antioxidant), and also a good source of selenium (an antioxidant that may relieve symptoms of asthma and high blood pressure) and chromium (a mineral used to help metabolize carbohydrates and promote insulin secretion). Not too shabby!
Remember that the flavor is reminiscent of scallions, garlic, onions, shallot, and leeks. They are much more mild and therefore pretty versatile. Here are some great ways to prepare ramps (aside from the recipes we will be posting all month long):
- grill ramp salad with bacon and pine nuts in a raspberry vinaigrette
- sauteed ramps with pan-seared salmon in sweet chili garlic sauce
- ramp omelet with mushrooms and fresh ricotta cheese
- pork and ramp dumplings with sesame garlic soy glaze
- pickled ramps (a great way to preserve them, use with grilled meats, burgers, hot dogs, and salads)