Up here in the Pacific Northwest spring arrives later than in the rest of the country, especially when it comes to the growing season. For us, early April usually means a chill in the air, grey skies, and more rain. While family and friends located in warmer climes are already flooded with asparagus and rhubarb, I’m still waiting impatiently. Our farmers market only has a few greens, veggie starts, and cut daffodils.
So I went to the farmers market over the weekend not expecting too much. But there was a wonderful surprise waiting for me—ramps!
Pristine ramps, so fresh and alive. In my anticipation of asparagus season, I had forgotten all about the ramps. I bought one bunch, and then thought better of it and went back for another.
I found one other thing at the farmers market—inspiration. I can wait for the other spring produce; this week we’ll be having lightly sautéed ramp greens and grilled ramp stems and Pickled Ramps.
½ cup white vinegar
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
3 allspice berries
1 bay leaf
½ pound ramps, cleaned and blanched
Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, coriander, black peppercorns, allspice, and bay leaf in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Place the ramps into a medium jar and add the hot vinegar mixture. Let cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate overnight before serving.
Makes about 6 to 8 servings. Ramps tend to be very dirty. To prepare them, trim the root ends, peel away any dried or dirty layers, and rinse them thoroughly. If the leaves are dried, mushy, or discolored, trim them too. Pickled Ramps keep for weeks tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Don’t hesitate to double the recipe because they go fast. These sweet and sour pickles are perfect on steak sandwiches. In case you’ve never had a ramp, they’re related to onions, and they taste like a cross between onions and pungent, pungent garlic. Ramps are absolutely delicious, but what I’m trying to say is don’t plan on getting too close to your sweetheart after you’ve dined on ramps.