Ramps, which are also called wild leeks, are native to North America. They are a kind of onion; the bulb looks like a scallion but the plant also has big flat leaves. The name comes from the Elizabethan word "ramson" or "rams" which means wild garlic. The word was first used in the sixteenth century in England but English immigrants brought it to the southern Appalachian Mountains.
This plant grows from Canada to South Carolina and they are a spring delicacy in some places. So what exactly does it taste like? You can compare the flavor to a cross between garlic and onion. The plant can be difficult to get and they only have a two or three week window of availability. You can buy them in bulk though and freeze them. The green tops have a milder taste than the bulbs and you can use them together.
This vegetable adds a pungent taste to egg dishes, potato recipes, rice dishes, casseroles, and soups. You can use them cooked or raw in any recipe calling for leeks or scallions. Try frying them with potatoes or eggs. They are not grown like leeks so they are not as tricky to clean. Just cut the roots off, rinse them, and scrub off any visible dirt.
You can use this exciting ingredient in any grilled vegetable recipe instead of onions. Try using them on a grilled vegetable pizza or add them to aluminum foil vegetable packets with some herbs and a little butter. This vegetable can be sautéed, grilled, baked, stir fried or cooked another way.
- 3 cups ramps
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 6 cups sliced potatoes
- 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- Salt and black pepper, as needed
Arrange a layer of potatoes in a greased casserole dish, then a layer of ramps and some salt and pepper. Repeat the layers, ending with potatoes. Mix the cream and broth and pour this over the top.
Bake for forty five minutes at 375 degrees F, then sprinkle the cheese over it and serve. This recipe can be made with onions or green onions instead of ramps and you will have enough to serve six people as a side dish.
- 4 cups diced potatoes
- 2 cups steamed, chopped ramps
- 1 lb. sliced hot pepper cheese
- 6 eggs, whisked together
- 1 lb. browned ground chuck
- 1 lb. crumbled, crispy bacon
Boil the potatoes until tender and keep two cups of the potato water. Combine the ramps, potatoes, bacon, ground chuck, and eggs in a casserole dish and arrange the cheese over the top. Pour the potato water over the top and bake for forty minutes at 350 degrees F or until the casserole is golden brown.