Monday, April 27, 2009

A Whiff of Spring

Can you feel it in the air? More importantly, can you smell it?

That pungent garlicky aroma? It can only mean one thing.

Ramps are back.

Tastiest Weeds Ever

For those who aren't familiar with these spring delicacies, ramps are wild green onions that grow in eastern North America from north Georgia up through Canada. Prized for their sharp, powerful flavor and come-hither aroma, ramps substitute easily for any dish requiring garlic or onion.

Ramps are only available for about a month out of the year, depending on what neck of the woods you call home. Also depending on the location of your domicile, you might be able to go out and pick your very own ramps (or order them from someone who can). Ramps are often found in groups with wide, verdant green leaves, and purple or burgundy tints on the stems. A scallion-like bulb strongly roots the plant to the dirt underneath.

For New York city dwellers, ramps can be found at the Union Square greenmarket Mondays, Wendesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Just let your sense of smell guide you to them.

Seriously, follow your nose...

I love using ramps in recipes that allow them to play with other bold flavors, or as a substitute for garlic. Some of the things I've been concocting include:

Ramp and Bacon Omelet

Grilled Rice Cakes, Kimchi, Bacon, Ramps

Shrimp and Grits, Andouille Sausage, Ramps

With ramps, you really can't go wrong. Have fun, experiment, and for everyone's sake, brush your teeth.

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