Our life living off the land in our log cabin, breathing fresh mountain air, and getting back to basics.

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's Ramp Time!

Ramps are a wild leek that grow only in early spring, so the ability to use them while still fresh is limited.  They taste like a garlicky green onion and are considered a delicacy by some.  Most people either love them or hate them.  We happen to be in the lovers group.  One of my first experiences cooking with ramp was making Ramp Pasta; I'll share the recipe after I review how to harvest ramps (which is something you need to know if you are lucky enough to live where they grow; if you don't you can buy them in some grocery stores and most vegetable markets).

Here in the southern Appalachian mountains, ramps grow in the woods and usually prefer damp areas with lots of leaves decaying about.  They are almost always two leafed and have a pinkish stalk with a white bulb at the end.  The photo below is of a small patch, but they can be found in very large patches as well. Mountain Man went harvesting ramps with some friends to a sloped wooded area that had clumps of ramps growing over about an acre or so; the ones in our woods grow in individual patches like the one in the photo, with patches only here and there.

When harvesting ramp, you need a spade or a small mattock.  Carefully insert your tool deep into the soil around the ramp, being cautious not to cut into the root.  Loosen the soil with the tool...
...and gently bring the root bulb to the surface.

I harvested one to show you how, but typically people harvest pounds at a time.  When harvesting, it is extremely important to leave one for every one you harvest...this ensures sustainability of the patch and regrowth for harvests for years to com.

To clean the ramps, fill a bucket with water and place the dirt encrusted ramps into it, shaking them around.  I've done mine in the sink because I only have 1, but you can see how much dirt comes off of one plant.  You want to be sure that you remove the bulb's thin skin at this time as well.
Drain the water and rinse the ramp again (if I were cleaning a bunch I'd take them from the emptied bucket and place them into a water filled sink, rinsing again).

Now you are ready to cut off the root and either eat it (too strong for me to eat raw, but many people do) or cook it.  If you are storing it, wrap the cleaned ramps into newspaper, place in a plastic bag (I use 2 to keep the smell contained) and put them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.  You also want to plant the root portion (sustainability and regrowth) in the woods; brush away decaying leaves and scratch the surface of the dirt, place the root there and cover again with the leaves...if you're lucky, next year you'll have your very own ramps!

Now on to ramp pasta...trust me, if you like the flavor of garlic and green onions, you are going to love this dish.  And it's relatively easy to make (once your ramps are clean!)Dick and Ursula, we thought of you while we enjoyed this meal...sorry you couldn't be with us this time, but maybe you'll get to try the pickled ramps I'm going to make!

Fresh Ramp Pasta


1/2 lb whole wheat angel hair pasta (you can use your favorite pasta, but this makes for a hearty no-meat meal)
extra virgin olive oil
8 oz (30 - 35) fresh ramps, thinly sliced bulbs and julienned greens, separated
2 tbsp garlic
1/4 - 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
salt & pepper
Grated Asiago or Pecorino Romano to taste (forgot to include this in the picture)


You want to have all your ingredients prepared for cooking; it will only take 10 minutes or so from the time you start cooking to the time you serve your pasta.

Bring a large pot of water with a little salt and olive oil to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook for 6 minutes.

When the water is almost boiling, begin heating your olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of a large skillet, I used my 15 inch iron skillet).

Put your pasta into the pot and put your ramp bulbs into the pan, searing them until the whites are begin to blister and brown (3 minutes or so).

Add the garlic and continue to saute.  When the garlic begins to caramelize, lower the heat to medium.

When the pasta is done, put it into the pan with the ramps and garlic, stirring to combine.

Add some of the pasta water, 1/2 cup or so (don't throw it away yet, you may want to add more).

Add the julienned ramp and stir to combine.

Now add your breadcrumbs, which give the dish a delightful texture, I used 1/2 cup.

Place a pile of pasta with some of the little bits of ramp in the pan onto a plate, and drizzle olive oil over top.

Sprinkle with grated Asiago cheese (or Pecorino Romano) and serve!

Ramps make this pasta dish spectacular!  It is flavorful, colorful, and easy to make.  Serve with a fresh dandelion salad and warm fresh bread with a crispy crust and it is sure to become a favorite!

Come back again for more fresh ramp recipes...it's now or never!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Visit Flour Me With Love: Mix it up Monday and Homestead Barn Hop for more blog posts you might like!


Osage Bluff Quilter said...

There was a ramp festival here in town Saturday. Some one gave us a ramp and we took it to the restaurant and ate it with our dinner. Bernie will like reading your post today.

Dad/Pepere said...

Yummy! Hugs!

Lise said...

Sounds like fun Patti! See you soon:)

It was great dad, wait until you hear about the quiche! Hugs back!