When I was working in a kitchen in Western Massachusetts we would forage for ramps in the early spring. This was my first introduction to this North American wild vegetable. I have since come to love them and look forward to their short growing season each year.
Although ramps grow wild, they are nonetheless becoming more treasured and trendy used more recently by top chefs. Indeed, when we ate at Per Se last year (probably one of the best restaurants in America), one of our dishes included a garnish of wild ramps that were foraged in New York City. They taste of the scent of wild garlic but without the pungency.
We began by trimming off the root at the base of the ramp.
In a saucepan of boiling, heavily salted water, blanch the ramps. They will only take a couple of minutes until tender.
Immediately drain and rapidly cool with cold running water or use an ice bath.
When it is time to serve your dish, heat a little olive oil in a pan and over a medium heat re-heat the ramps. You will notice that the water left in the leaves of the ramps will begin to form little steam pillows. At this point remove them from the heat.
We decided to serve our ramps with roasted chicken and a mushroom ragout. We curled our ramps into little spring spirals and set them atop our chicken. The flavor of this dish was out of this world. The subtle almost creamy flavor of the ramp could be described as a combination of garlic, leek or spring onion but on a much more subtle level.