When I snagged ramps at the market this past weekend I only bought one small, foraged bunch at $4 a pop. I tried to pick the bunch with the most in them, but the folks from Spring Valley Orchard and Farm are really good at making them uniform. I’d heard much about these wildly sought-after wild leeks but never had a chance to cook them, so the purchase was a bit of a novelty. I then set about the task of finding a method of preparation that really highlighted their particular flavor while making them go further than three bites. Let me tell you, it’s tougher than you think. The great World Wide Web turned up hundreds of ramp recipes – ramps in pasta, ramps with eggs, ramp risotto, pickled ramps, ramp and bacon everything. The list goes on and on and ALL of them sounded delicious. However, my problem with them was the fact that they either required a great big pile of ramps, or the flavors of the other ingredients in the dishes were so powerful that you might not really get to taste the ramps’ garlicky, sweet, leeky, nutty flavor. So, I opted to go super simple and sauté them, at the suggestion of the good folks who sold them to me, with fresh asparagus. Luckily, I’d picked some of that up as well. Smart girl, right?
Andy and I had planned on having the asparagus and ramps with pan-seared Chilean sea bass, beurre blanc sauce, and an easy celery root and potato puree. I would love to tell you that the meal turned out perfectly, but I guess that would be just a little bit dishonest. The reality was that, though not a disaster, things did not turn out as we had planned. In the end, we ate our asparagus and ramps with imperfectly (but delicious) seared sea bass and microwavable brown rice. We probably have conflicting stories about how the whole thing went down, but I really just think it was just too ambitious for the amount of time we had, and too many people cooking in my teeny, tiny kitchen. Ahh, one day I will have my dream kitchen with plenty of space to spread out so that more than one person can cook at a time. In my dream there is also a genie that will clean up my giant kitchen after I cook. Yeah, right…
So here’s my simple asparagus and ramps sauté. It’s so easy it’s not even a recipe. I didn’t doctor it up at all and the ramp flavor really stood out. They’re kind of a delicious cross between garlic and green onions. I am now a big fan.
Asparagus and Ramps
1 small bunch of ramps (6-8)
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 ½ to 2 inch pieces
Salt and pepper
In a small sauté pan heat a small pad of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Add ramps, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium or medium low heat (so as not to burn) until they’re soft and slightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Then add a bit more butter and oil, add asparagus, season with salt, and sauté until slightly browned or charred. Turn off heat and add ramps back in. Toss to combine and serve.