Ramps (Allium Tricoccum), also called ramson, wild leeks, and in the UK wild garlic, are in season now. They won't be in season long, and when they're gone, they're gone until next year. So when I saw some at the Findlay Market Madison's I snapped them up.
Here's what ramps look like growing. They grow in damp woodlands wild all over the midwest and can be foraged from April through June, depending on how far north you are. Here in SW OH the ramps season is just starting and will last about six weeks. The taste is somewhere between an onion and strong garlic, and they can be used in any recipe calling for garlic.
This is a ramp, not yet cleaned.
I trim the roots, then stick them into a sink full of water and swish them around to get them clean. Like leeks, they tend to collect dirt in their layers, and if you don't clean them thoroughly your finished dish will be gritty.
Here's my bunch all nice and clean:
I would have loved to pair these ramps with that other early-spring foragers' delight, morel mushrooms, but they were $40 a pound this weekend at Madison's. I think I'll wait for my morel foraging expedition in a couple of weeks to try that combo. This time I just used criminis.
PASTA SALAD WITH CHICKEN, BACON, MUSHROOMS AND RAMPS
16 oz Rotini
1 t olive oil
2 slices of bacon, diced
1 bunch ramps, chopped roughly
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb mushrooms, quartered
1/4 c cream
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
2 T grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt & pepper to taste
Prepare pasta al dente according to package instructions and drain. In the meantime in a large saute pan, saute bacon until crisp. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, add to drained pasta, toss to coat, and set aside.
In remaining bacon grease, saute ramps, garlic, and mushrooms until mushrooms are cooked through. Add cream and diced chicken; simmer on lowest heat to reduce, about 15 minutes.
Add veggies and parmesan to pasta and toss to coat, correct seasonings, and chill thoroughly before serving. Even better the next day. Thumbs up here at our house.