Pan Roasted Ramps


I remember in high school that there was a paragraph in the Code of Conduct guide that stated a student could be sent home if he or she had an offensive body odor, such as one that came from eating ramps.  Being new to the mountains, I had never heard of ramps before, and was kind of amused when I found out that they were a wild plant eaten in the area where I lived and its scent resembled something like very strong garlic.  Imagine my great surprise when, 10 years later, I'm a foodie who discovers ramps are all the rage in the food world.  Lauded for their unique and delicate taste, they're something of a cross between an onion and garlic.  If you're still wondering what a ramp is, check out wikipedia.  As Michael Scott would remind us, Wikipedia is great because anyone can post about a subject, so you know you're getting the most accurate information. 

As Drew and I were perusing the Asheville Farmer's Market a couple weeks ago, what should I happen to find?  Ramps.  Curiosity got the better of me, and $2.50 later, I was carrying home a bundle of ramps.  We put them in the trunk of the car, but the very pungent aroma still cleared everyone's sinuses.  A day later, I used the Pan Roasted Ramps recipe found in Tom Colicchio's Craft of Cooking.  Some of my first posts will be from this book as it's such a great book to focus on a single ingredient.  That, and it's a library checkout, so I make many things in the time I have borrowed it.

I pan roasted the ramps and put them in a salad.  I am pleased to report that their smell subsided.  Neither of us were too offensive to be around.  In fact, roasting them mellowed out the smell so that the house smelled pleasantly of the garlic-onion combination.  The taste was, indeed, a cross between garlic and onion, but nice and mellow from the roasting. 

I can't say I'm as sold out as the chefs who rave about them, but the ramps weren't bad.  We likely won't be making them a regular part of our cuisine, but I at least know why students would risk being thrown out of school for offensive body odors. 

Pan Roasted Ramps
from Craft of Cooking

2 lb young ramps

2-3 tb peanut oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tb unsalted butter
2 sprigs thyme
Trim the ramps by cutting off and discarding the stringy bottoms and separating and reserving the leaves. Wash both the stems and leaves thoroughly.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a large skillet over med-low heat. Add about half the ramps (enough to fill but not crowd the pan), season with salt and pepper, and cook until the ramps begin to color, about 5 minutes. Add half the butter and thyme. Roll the ramps, lightly browning on all sides and cooking until tender, about 5 more minutes. Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining ramps.

To serve, wipe out the pan and heat over med. Add a skim of oil and all ramps. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and reheat 1-2 min.

Cook's Notes
1.  I didn't purchase an entire two pounds; I had more like 1/2 to 1 lb.  Therefore, I reduced all other ingredients by half. 
2. I didn't need to sauté and brown the ramps in batches. 
3.  For my stove at least, the med-low heat is important or you get too much browning before the inside of the ramp is done.
4.  I discarded the green stems rather than using them as a garnish.  Sorry, Tom! 
5.  Sorry for no pictures- blogging with photos is new to me!

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