We've been writing a bit lately about telltale signs of spring. But from a culinary perspective -- in this part of the country, anyway -- there may be no more apt symbol of early spring than the ramp.
Ramps are small, tender bulbs that resemble a cross between garlic and green onions. Also known as wild leeks, ramps have a delicious oniony bite, but the taste is tempered and milder than scallions.
They're huge in this area -- several communities in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania hold annual ramp festivals. And as restaurants have turned their attention to local ingredients in recent years, you can almost set your calendar by the appearance of ramps on area menus.
But we'd actually never cooked with them. Which is why, as we were putting together our menu for our Easter brunch this year, we were so drawn to this recipe for Scrambled Eggs with Ramps and Asparagus. We loved the idea of cooking not only with the ramp bulbs, but with the greens as well. These eggs promised to be delicious and warm, with unmistakable notes of spring.
This dish is absolutely lovely! Our brunch guests really enjoyed it. The asparagus and the ramps take a standard scrambled egg preparation and inject with with wonderful flavors and a terrific, spring-like green crunch.
It's very easy to prepare, and it's especially great for a brunch crowd: we chopped the vegetables and cracked and whisked the eggs ahead of time, before our guests arrived. Then, just a few minutes before we sat down to eat, we sauteed the ramps, added the ramp greens and asparagus, and then scrambled the eggs.
The great thing about an egg scramble recipe is that it's endlessly adaptable. Think of it as a rough blueprint more than a hard and fast recipe. For example, we left out the morel mushrooms because we knew some of our guests wouldn't care for them. You could also add to this recipe if you want -- we bet it would be great with a handful of goat cheese thrown in.
We loved our first foray into cooking with ramps, and we're eager to use them again very soon. Got any great ramp recipes? Let us know!
This recipe is as delicious for lunch or supper as it is for breakfast. Morel mushrooms tend to trap grit, so swish them around in cool water, transfer them to fresh water for a 15-minute soak, and pat dry before using.
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1/4 cup thinly sliced trimmed ramp bulbs and slender stems plus 1 cup thinly sliced green tops (from about 4 large ramps)
* 4 medium asparagus spears, trimmed, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
* 1 oz fresh morel mushrooms, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 1/2 cup)
* 4 large eggs, beaten to blend
Melt butter in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ramp bulbs and stems to skillet; sauté 3 minutes. Add green tops, asparagus, and mushrooms; sauté until ramps are soft and asparagus is crisp-tender, about 9 minutes. Add eggs to skillet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir until eggs are very softly set, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide scrambled eggs between 2 plates and serve immediately.