I know without a doubt that spring is here in Southwest Wisconsin because the ramps have arrived. And that is fantastic news! If you are unfamiliar with ramps, they are a wild allium, that have a flavor resembling onion and garlic. They have a white and sometimes pink stalk like a scallion, with wide, flat green leaves. Ramps grow on shaded forest floors, usually on a hillside that is on a North-facing slope. In recent years, foraging these wild delights has become more and more popular in the culinary world, so being careful while wild-crafting is extremely important. If done with respect for the plant and the woods where it grows, you can harvest some of the most flavorful wild foods around. Also, because it is one of the first wild foods that emerges after a long winter, it is always a reason to celebrate.
You can use ramps like you would many other herbs or alliums, like scallions. I like to throw them into sauces and pastes, pickle the stems and even put the green tops on pizzas or grilled cheese. One of my favorite ways to use ramps is to make a chimichurri sauce, which is a traditional Argentinian condiment that would be put on grilled meats like flank steak or chicken. It is full of herbs, with a hint of red wine vinegar and olive oil, so it is kind of like the Argentinian version of a pesto. I love this on all sorts of beef, pork, chicken and fish, and it is even delicious on eggs. For Easter, we slathered it on smoked pork ribs, which was the best idea ever.
This comes together easily in a blender or food processor and takes very little time. If you don't have ramps, you can easily substitute scallions (green onions), diced red onion or even a few garlic scapes. For a little more heat, you could add more jalapeno pepper or hot pepper of your choice.
Wild Ramp Chimichurri
Makes ~2 cups
4-6 ramps, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, diced
1/2-1 jalapeno pepper, diced
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Pinch black pepper
1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
In a blender or food processor, pulse together all of the ingredients except for the olive oil. Pulse the mixture until they come roughly chopped. While the blender is running, drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture comes together into a smooth paste. If you like a thicker paste, use about 1/2 cup of olive oil, and if you prefer a thinner sauce, use a little more oil.
Transfer to a jar and refrigerate until ready to use. This will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge, or can be frozen if you make a larger batch.
Brine & Broth
I am a nutritionist in Southwest Wisconsin, focused on traditional, nutrient-dense foods. My goal is to provide you with simple and delicious recipes that fit into real life, and information for choosing healthful real foods. Enjoy!