Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday: Ramping up

Ramps scrambled into eggs.

Meet the ramp:

Ramp: faithful reader. Faithful reader: ramp.

These lovely alliums are a wild relative of the leek. Each spring, they pop up on the banks of riverbeds up and down the east coast, especially in the Appalachian region, where they hold the honor of being the traditional harbinger of spring. Here, as we alluded to in our most recent greenmarket post, they are the traditional harbinger of foodie mayhem. Ramps have become a favorite of chefs and marketgoers in the last few years, especially since their season is very short - only a few weeks.

The funny thing about ramps is that they apparently refuse to be cultivated. They like to grow in forest climates, but once the trees are in full leaf, it's too shady for the ramps. People have tried to transplant them to gardens, but they just don't like that climate as much, and they will not grow well. Luckily, they're very common in eastern deciduous forest regions, so many of the farmers at our market go on ramp-gathering expeditions and sell buckets of the things in the spring along with their other cultivated goods.

Ramps are a pretty mild allium: like other members of their family, they have a light oniony taste, but they also have a hint of garlic and an overall distinctive flavor. Since they're relatively small, they cook up quickly - the broad green leaves are also edible and can be wilted in separately from the white bulbs.

From what we can tell, ramps and eggs are a popular combination, so that's where we started with this new veggie. After sauteeing the ramp bulbs, we briefly tossed in the greens, and then added beaten eggs and stirred until they were scrambled to a fine grain.

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