It’s been one year plus one month of sheer agony as I’ve been trying to get my hands on a vegetable that’s never available. Of course, I’m referring to the elusive and strongly scented, yet much-demanded spring vegetable: ramps.
Ramps, or wild leeks as they’re also known, are native to Chicago but have a very short growing season (usually mid-March to mid-April). They’re also in great demand amongst chefs, so much so that it’s virtually impossible to get them outside a restaurant without paying a small fortune.
But my luck was about to change.
Despite the dreary cloudy sky yesterday, the sun suddenly shone bright for me as soon as I opened my email to find this message: “I went ramp picking this weekend and harvested a ton – do you want some? – E”
Sweeter words have never been typed. I hesitated for oh, a nanosecond, before hitting reply and typing “YES!!!”
Later that day I was handed a clear plastic bag with just my name written on it. Inside it was stuffed full of ramps, beautiful leafy green tops, slender pink stalks leading to perfectly white bulbs. And the smell – such strong aromas of garlic and onion, both pungent and sweet, that the scent from cooking just three is still lingering in my kitchen.
E won’t tell me where she found the ramps, only that she gathered about three pounds! Her reasons for keeping the secret location are that she’s a conservationist and doesn’t want them to be over-picked, but I have a feeling her foraging may not have been on the up-and-up, if you know what I mean. Ah, to have friends like this…
I have great plans for these ramps – risotto, roasted chicken, soup, etc. But I’m leaving town tomorrow and have dinner plans tonight, so those dreams will have to wait until I return.
But I had to try them at least once before I could get on with my life. So, today for breakfast I enjoyed scrambled eggs with ramps. This sure is living the good life.
Scrambled Eggs with Ramps – serves 1
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
3 eggs (I like to use 1 whole egg plus 2 egg whites), beaten until combined
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
Clean the ramps well. Separate the white/pink parts from the green leaves. Finely chop the white part, then slice the green leaves into 1/2-inch pieces.
Heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil then the white part of the ramps. Sweat the ramps for 1 minute or until they begin to soften. Add the eggs. Cook, stirring often, until the eggs are set, about 3 minutes. Stir in the leafy part of the ramps and the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.