Ramps in Brown Butter

Final dish

The foodie world goes a little nuts over ramps, so when I saw them at the farmer’s market I grabbed a bunch – just for me – to see what all the fuss was about.  Ramps have an infamously short growing season – just three or four weeks – and they often get snatched up by chefs for seasonal specialties, but the market was flush with them on Saturday. It must have been a good season.  The nice vendor insisted that I try them simply, sauteed with salt and pepper, and really enjoy the flavor.   Of course, “simple” isn’t really something I do – but I tried to be restrained.

Hairy ramps Clean Ramps Chopped ramps 2

I used a beautiful post from Crepes of Wrath as my guide, which advised that I cook the ramps in brown butter, and added some toasted pine nuts for a bit of protein, fat and textural interest.  They were great, but next time I would consider toasted walnuts instead, as the ramps definitely could have stood up to a more bitter flavor.

Ramps are a member of the allium family, which includes garlic and onions.  The flavor is similar to a garlicky leek, but with a the lovely, delicate texture.  Next time I might poach an egg over them or pile them on toast, but this was a perfect introduction to ramps, and just like that, I’m hooked.

Recipe inspired by Crepes of Wrath

  • 1 bunch ramps
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts or other nuts (chopped walnuts would be good)
  • salt and pepper

Toast your nuts well in the oven, toaster oven, or in a dry, heavy skillet over medium heat, watching them carefully to make sure they don’t burn, about 8 minutes.

Wash ramps well in cold water, peel off any stringy bits, and trim the hairy tips.  Cut into two-inch pieces.

Melt butter in a heavy skillet and let cook over medium low heat, swirling occasionally, until butter begins to smell nutty and divine and solids form at the bottom of the pan.  Tilt the pan to one side to allow the butter to pool and check the color – you want a toasted golden-brown.  In my cast iron skillet, already hot from toasting the pine nuts, this only took about 4 minutes.

Add ramps to pan, season generously with salt and pepper, and saute over medium heat until greens wilt and ends begin to brown, about 5 minutes.  Toss pine nuts to heat and transfer to a plate.  Correct seasoning if needed and scarf down in three minutes flat.


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