I really appreciate all your feedback! To calm any minds that may remain unsettled: don’t worry, I’m not changing anything.
It’s true that I had been thinking of swtiching formats completely to keep things fresh and turning into a Game of Thrones fanfic site, but thanks to you all, I think I’ve pretty much decided against that in favor of Buffy.
I kid! It will still be food along with me nattering on about shit. I’m glad to hear you enjoy the nattering, appreciative that you took the time to tell me so* and inspired that so many of you openly admit to loving big butts.
To thank you for all your kind words, I present you with the post you’ve been waiting for since the first crocus bulb peeped its purple head up through the newly-thawed ground: ramps.
*Except for those of you who didn’t. You know who you are.
Ramps: What are they? Why are they such a big hairy deal? Why do they cost $6.99 a bunch? Why did I buy two bunches in spite of that? Are they more or less overrated than fiddlehead ferns, which taste like cedar mulch?
Ramps are wild leeks; they look kinda like spring onions, smell like garlic and leave you with absolutely heinous breath. Farmer’s market purveyors obtain them by foraging, and you obtain them by bringing a taser to the farmer’s market at 5AM so you can take out the sous chefs from Per Se and Eleven Madison Park who are there trying to buy them all up.*
*Alternatively, you can get them from Fresh Direct and avoid the assault charges. Which is what I did, and I’m sure many people think I’m a poser for not schlepping to the Greenmarket via public transit with my recycled hemp tote. To which I say: I got to sleep in on Saturday and still got the goddamned ramps, so who’s laughing now?
Something about them causes foodie-type people to get their panties in a giant bunch and write paeans about the advent of springtime and growth and renewal and blah blah blah oh my god IT’S JUST A FUCKING ONION. In a number of states – many of them in the South, not that I am insinuating anything – they drive people so batty* they become convinced that ramp festivals featuring events like “outhouse races where teams from local business build rolling outhouses and power them down the main thoroughfare” are both fun and necessary.
Because nothing says “Springtime!” like parading ACTUAL BOXES OF SHIT down the High Street. These are not the workings of a sound mind, is all I’m saying.**
Won’t someone think of the children?
I’ve never bought them before, but this year I got a letter from the National Council of People Who Blather Online About Food telling me that my membership was in jeopardy; I didn’t even know I was a member, but the warning came certified mail so you know they’re serious.
So I paid out the ass for the damn ramps, and then had to figure out what to do with them. You can eat both the leafy part and the bulb, raw or cooked. I thought I’d save the bulbs for Brian to pickle, a popular treatment, and decided to try the leaves raw first. Ergo: savory ricotta fritters with ramp salsa verde. Or chimichurri.
Decide how exotic you want it to seem and go with that. Either way, you just mince up a bunch of ramp greens and slightly smaller bunches of mint and parsley leaves; add some lemon zest, pepper flakes and salt; stir in good olive oil and some red wine vinegar and leave the whole mess to meld for a while.
I briefly considered making fresh ricotta for the fritters but bailed on that even though it’s stupid easy; using ramps gives me enough cred for one meal. To really drive home the “springtime” thing, I sauteed some fresh English peas with a bit of shallot and folded them into a simple ricotta-egg-flour batter along with some grated parm, salt and pepper. I let the batter sit while a pot of veg oil heated up and dropped in heaping tablespoonsful.
I plopped the still-hot fritters into a pool of ramp salsa, kissed the plate up to Jesus and took a bite.
In answer to the questions posed above: no, ramps are NOT as overrated as fiddlehead ferns by virtue of the fact that they actually taste good. However, I remain somewhat puzzled as to the cause of the big hairy deal.
I mean, this was enjoyable – the fritters were surprisingly light but satisfying, and the salsa was bright and punchy. But I’m also pretty sure you could achieve the same flavor profile with mundane, non-foraged, cheaper ingredients like spring onions, scallions and actual garlic. I suppose we should still support their sale, as it keeps our nation’s many unemployed foragers working, but I am willing to openly admit that I don’t really get it. Maybe they’re more a symbolic thing, but if that’s the case I’d rather throw my weight behind asparagus.
I’ll say it again: I DON’T GET RAMPS. Go ahead and revoke my membership in the National Council if you want. I don’t care: I get enough tote bags from PBS fundraising drives anyway.
Ramp Salsa Verde
1 c. minced ramps (green leaves only)
1/2 c. mined mint leaves
1/2 c. minced flat parsley leaves
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
6 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Stir everything together. The end.
Savory Ricotta Fritters
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, minced
2/3 c. fresh shelled peas
1 c. whole milk ricotta
2 large eggs
2/3 c. AP flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. finely grated parmigiano cheese
Veg/canola oil for frying
Heat the butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add the shallot and peas; cook for 5-7 minutes, until the shallots are translucent and the peas are bright green. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, flour, salt and parm together until just combined, then fold in the peas and shallots. Set the batter aside while you get ready to fry.
Fill a heavy pot with 2-3 inches of oil and heat it to 340-360 degrees. Drop the fritter batter in by heaping spoonfuls Fry for 2-3 minutes until golden brown on one side, then flip and do the same to the other side. Remove the cooked fritters to a wire cooling rack with paper towels underneath to keep them from getting soggy.
Serve hot with the ramp salsa verde.
Aughhh! No! You were yelling at MEEEEE, because I failed to comment yesterday. However, so that you can count my vote retroactively, I prefer medium-sized butts and I don’t want you to change, except perhaps to wax even more opinionated when you feel like it. I skim some things in my RSS reader (because when I subscribe to things, I usually fail to consider that a day is only 24 hours, and try as I might, I can’t read ALL THE THINGS), but I always read your posts all the way through. I even comment occasionally! Keep it up! And I’ll try not to be such a loser the next time you assign a commenting task.
I’m with you on not getting the hype about ramps. I have one of Tom Colicchio’s books, in which he has like a dozen recipes built around ramps. Never having had them, I realized that they must be this vegetable gold, on par with truffles or morel mushrooms. Then I got some in my CSA a few weeks later and I have to say, eh. I’m glad to hear you had the same reaction because I swear to God I thought I was missing something, like I had managed to kill that special quality they were supposed to have. Victory: me.
You can also procure ramps at Whole Paycheck, which I’m told is cheating, but I’ve been known to pay through the nose for them – and not know what to do with them once I get them home. So far I have wrapped them arond pork medallions and pureed them with cauliflower. I have to agree they’re not so special.
I think people like the idea that they’re LOCALANDSEASONAL – the food PC Holy Grail, plus we like the idea that we could potentially procure them ourselves for free. Most of us never have, but potentially we could. I confess to looking for them when I’m out in the fields and swamps on weekends, but I’ve never found a single one.
You know I like when you bitch about things. So whatever option that is, along with my large-for-my-size behind, gets my vote.
As for ramps, we don’t even get them in grocery stores in CO. Seriously, WTF? Because I like throwing money at pretense.
Ramps + potatoes + pan frying = amazeballs magic. At least that’s what I learned living in West Virginia.
I also do not get ramps. I ended up with a few bunches in a CSA a few years ago, and thought it was the Most Awesome Thing Ever, then spent a while pondering how to use them, made some pasta with a ramp-based sauce type thing, and decided I like scallions much more.
@laura, i WAS yelling at your specifically, but you’ve made up for it.
@brittany, right? i was prepared to be BLOWN AWAY by the ramps, possibly to the point of quitting my job and becoming a full-time forager. no dice.
@rachel, i know some people do do the foraging themselves. but aside from the fact that there are poisonous weeds that look a lot like ramps, i can’t trust that there is a NYC-area ramp that has not been peed on by a dog or hobo.
@kristie, they seem like an east coast thing? do you get fiddlehead ferns? maybe you can blow a wad about that.
@sara, i might be willing to try it if the ramps weren’t so freaking expensive.
@elise, yeah, i’ll take some garlic scapes over ramps any day of the week.
I don’t get it either. As you said so eloquently – they’re just a F-ing onion. Panty bunching is perplexing to me. I think it’s because they play hard to get, only being available for a short time each year.
You are bound and determined that your home smell like fry oil to potential home buyers aren’t you? 🙂
I have heard of ramps on cooking shows and such but I have never actually SEEN them anywhere near me for sale. Guessing they are not a West Coast veg?
Look, as someone who is likely to never even eat one, due to my not-in-America location, it does hearten me that they’re not the promised land of ingredients that blogs have led me to believe. Nonetheless, the recipe does sound delicious, and I might try it with spring onions and garlic instead.
Ramps are a big deal if you like to forage because they’re the first edible thing in the spring. Well, except for maple sap. And in the spring in the country, after a long fucking winter of mud and ice and general grossness, ANY sign that the end of the grossness is near is cause for celebration.
And just so you know, you’re very unlikely to mistake ANYTHING for a ramp when foraging because all you have to do is break off a bit of the leaf and smell it. If it smells like onion, you’re good. If it doesn’t . . . well, don’t eat it.
But paying six bucks a bunch for them? Um, no. Never. If I couldn’t get them for free, I wouldn’t bother either. Same with day lily buds, which I always see written up in the NYT. I tried them last year for the first time, figuring I might as well since they grow in hideous profusion along the edge of my garden and always try to creep in where I don’t want them. They were okay, but I wouldn’t get too worked up about them. For future reference.
You know Alice Waters has eaten at “my” restaurant twice this week? A 3 hr lunch can’t be half bad… (il Buco Alimentari)
However, I refuse to believe ramps are overrated. I think they are frequently misused, but I would be all over those ricotta fritters! Nicely done!
Thank god, someone who speaks the sense! Ramps (or wild garlic as we call them here in the UK) – not only do I not get them, but I actively dislike. Allium-flavoured water with a back-hint of wheatgrass. Veearrrrrrkkk. Get over yourselves + shut up.
Fiddleheads; you’re doing it wrong. They must be smothered in Hollandaise sauce, then all is right with the overexcited foraging world. Of course, I think old tennis shoes probably taste good smothered in Hollandaise, so maybe I’m doing it wrong…
I’m whispering now: i have ramps in my backyard! and i live in a town! No, I won’t tell you where I live. I’ve never cooked with them because they have such a strong flavor, but maybe I’ll try these. I bet they taste even better with FREE ramps!
@kaitlyn, everything i’ve read says the grown from south carolina to canada, so i guess it’s an east coast thing.
@kristin, you can eat day lily buds? i had no idea. i have day lilies! maybe i’ll set up a farmstand and make some cash on the side.
@rock n’ roll, we will agree to disagree on ramps, although i am willing to go so far as to say that free, foraged ramps are not overrated, but $6/bunch ramps are.
@elizabeth, what’s not good covered in hollandaise? i feel like, if i’ve had fiddleheads at the union square cafe and didn’t like ’em, i probably just don’t like fiddleheads.
@sally, sell that shit while you can!
You were totally yelling at me. I yield!
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