by guest blogger, Chef Melissa Wieczorek, Zest Culinary Services,

Spring has finally arrived!  Yes, the temperatures are warming up, the sun is shining and flowers are blooming. But it’s the appearance of ramps at local farmers markets that truly marks the season for culinary enthusiasts.

“What the heck are ramps?” you ask?  A member of the onion family, they’re one of the earliest spring greens with a potent flavor that’s a cross between garlic and onions with a slightly peppery bite.

Ramps are high in vitamins A and C. They are wild foraged, have a long growth cycle and a very short window of availability making them a more expensive and highly coveted ingredient.

Intrigued? Intimidated?  Here are a couple of tips and recipes to get you started.

Ramps_April 2016_Mainly Mushrooms

Purchasing: Ramps are sold in bunches. They have slim white ends resembling a scallion but broad green leaves and an unmistakable garlic aroma. Look for bright greens and pass on bunches with wilted leaves.

Storage: Handle with care! If you’re not going to use your ramps right away then store them in the refrigerator for 3-4 days wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a plastic bag.

Cooking: Ramps are entirely edible from top to bottom. You can sauté them whole and eat them as a side dish, or chop them up for use in place of scallions, leeks or spring onions in any recipe. They tend to be dirty like leeks. So be sure to rinse thoroughly and pat dry before use.

Try these recipes and let me know what you think!  Email me at chefmelissa@zestchefs.com.

Goat Cheese and Caramelized Ramp Crostini

Use this process to caramelize ramps for any use. But they’re particularly delicious in this crostini application.

INGREDIENTS

1 bunch ramps, cleaned and chopped
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped and divided
1 baguette, sliced and toasted
8 oz goat cheese

HOW TO

  1. Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Stir in ramps. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently until the ramps take on a caramel-like color, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Deglaze with balsamic vinegar. Stir in half of the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, spread goat cheese on toasted baguette slices. Top with warm caramelized onions. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve.

Cilantro-Mint Yogurt Sauce

A refreshing spring condiment.

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup cilantro
¼ cup mint
1 ramp
1 cup spring greens (e.g. spinach or kale)
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 cup Greek yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO

Place cilantro, mint, ramp and greens in food processor or blender and pulse until minced. Add lime juice, oil and yogurt and blend until well mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.  Serve over grilled fish or chicken. Try it as a dip for spring veggies.


Chefs Melissa and Theo, Zest Culinary Services

Executive Chef Melissa Wieczorek and her partner Chef Theo Petron own Zest Culinary Services (formerly A la Maison Personal Chef Service). Their mission is to help their clients eat well, live fit and have fun through food. Their services include prepared meal delivery, personal chef services, dinner parties—including interactive dinners—as well as catering. Check out their new website here.

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