One morning last week I woke up early to embrace the day and forage for ramps -- in the bins of the Union Square Greenmarket. Ha. To my delight I did not miss the short season for this wild leek/garlic bastard child, and I learned a lesson to boot: it is OK to ask your boss to store fragrant (kind of smelly) food matter in her mini-fridge for a day, as long as you promise to bring in baking soda and everyone agrees to ignore the fact that their lunches taste like onions.
I bought three bunches of ramps that morning. A short growing season ensures that there will be no leftovers at the end of the day at the market after the entire population of Williamsburg stocks up. Each bunch was $3 or $3.50 depending on which stand you choose. I used my ramps two ways: I made a ramp and walnut pesto and I made pickled ramps.
I found a ramp pesto recipe on food52.com and based mine loosely off of that. I washed and cut the roots off of 1.5 bundles of ramps and chopped them up a bit, including the leaves and stems. They went into the blender with about 3/4 cup of toasted walnuts, 1/2 cup of whatever grated Italian cheese I had and a few good lugs of olive oil. So easy and such a beautiful green. I spread a bit of the pesto onto pizza for lunch, and put more of it over pasta for dinner. I have leftovers that I will spread on sandwiches and more pizza this week. I'm allergic to garlic, and this pesto had none but the ramps brought a garlick-y taste (and breath). It was a nice alternative to garlic and basil pesto.
I pickled the rest of the ramps. I cut off the leaves and roots and put the remaining pieces into a glass jar. I heated 1 cup of water, 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, a bay leaf, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, coriander seeds and a bit of a pickling spice mix in a pot until it boiled and the sugar was disintegrated. I poured the mix into the jar and let cool before sitting in the fridge for three days. I haven't broken into these yet, but I'm excited to eat them on sandwiches and alone.
Ramp season is over in about a week but there is still time to run to the market and try them for yourself. Let me know if you do!