Wild Leeks and Simple Ramp Snacks for Spring
Every year, wild ramps can be seen throughout North America in farmers markets, chefs menus, and heck, you may have even witnessed them in your own backyard!
If you're looking for a few ways to enjoy the bounty of ramps in your backyard, look no further!
These bright green leaves pop straight up out of the ground and it seems like they are gone just as fast as they arrive with their short lived season.
I remember the first time I set out on a field trip to forage for these. I was up north, outside of Grand Marais, Minnesota. We hiked off the beaten path, and it was quiet enough to hear each of the birds sing. With the sun barely shining, I looked down and right before my eyes,... a patch of ramps!
Learning how to be patient was a must in order to successfully retrieve the whole plant and bulb out of the ground. We were given an insider tip to bring a shovel along for the ride, and by carefully digging into the soil in a small area, we could see the bulb and roots come right out of the ground with ease.
I love the mindfulness practice and intentionality that foraging can bring to the table <- pun intended. Over the years, I'm reminded that it's not about quantity, but rather picking and choosing only a few from each patch.
Upon cleaning off my first ramp thoroughly, I put the whole vegetable straight into my mouth...
A BURST of flavor! My eyes grew a little more wide with wonder that day I can only imagine. Going into it with a completely open mind, I gathered so many nutrient dense plants outside my backdoor, and so much beauty and awe for the natural world over and again.
Now if you're sensitive to onions or garlic, I wouldn't recommend doing as I did :) However, as a way to get to know our food a little closer, I totally recommend taking a little nibble or two.
There's so much to discover about wild leeks. I've been currently reading little pockets of wisdom here and there in Sam Thayer's book, "Forager's Harvest." If you'd like to learn more about them, where you can find them, how to harvest their bounty, along with other incredible plants to forage, I highly recommend it!
Now that we've ramped up the talk about ramps, there's only one question that remains...
What in the world can we do with them?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
For one, they're great sautéed in a little avocado oil. Add a little sea salt and cracked black pepper, and you're good to go.
If you want something a little more subtle where these wild leeks aren't taking center stage of the plate, they can easily be pickled, made into a sauce, or simply tossed with a few other veggies.
It's great in eggs, in guacamole, and as a homemade pesto. Considered a part of the onion family, I just substitute onion or garlic for the bulbs and lots of greens... and viola! Healthy, nutritious spring snacks that were grown and sustainably foraged!
I usually omit recipes and rules and like to intuitively work with ingredients I have on hand.
Below is an example of what I happened to have in the pantry and fridge that shaped form into a delicious breakfast whole bowl. Feel free to try cooking straight from what I did or modify it to your liking. Most importantly, enJoy!
takes 25-30 min cook time
5 min prep time
30 min total
(modify as needed)
10 baby yellow or red potatoes, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped (save onion skin scraps to make natural dye bandana, or compost!)
2 garlic cloves minced
4 farm fresh eggs
handful of ramps
olive oil or avocado oil
salt, pepper, to taste, paprika for color
preheat oven to 450f
chop and prep ingredients as oven is heating
olive oil for potatoes - cover and mix in onions
place on pan and heat 25 mins (every oven is different, so check potatoes after 15 mins -- should be in between soft and hard)
in meantime, as that is cooking in oven, get your ramps. take bulb ends and cut up. cook in avocado oil then add eggs, over med-high heat on stove
(you can make them sunny side up or over easy, whatever is your preference --- i just like mine runny enough so the yoke can get into the potatoes!)
take greens from ramps while eggs are cooking and chop for garnish
take potatoes out of oven and add to bowl with eggs and garnish on top as pictured.
lastly, i had a gut instinct to add kimchi (... it's to be good for my gut health!)
i used japenese, but korean is just as good.
if not making it at home, i prefer this one from the market:
as side note, the japenese symbol on this packaging translates to 'chi' and is common hello greeting in japenese that translates to "how's your energy?"
i just love this - and i love the energy i get from eating a whole bowl like this too :)
I hope this inspires you to work with ingredients you have on hand or right in your own backyard. I'm currently looking at a pile of foraged nettles and dandelions, and thinking about what to make for dessert!
On the topic of Spring, here are additional field notes you might like: