ramps

What's that vegetable? The elusive ramp

May 4, 2011 at 4:08 PM ET

Michelle Hainer /

If there’s a sure sign that spring has indeed sprung in the Northeast, it’s the appearance of ramps at your local farmers market or grocery store.  These onion stalks, also known as wild leeks, have a relatively short season—about two to three weeks—and because of this, and their distinctive garlicky flavor, foodies rejoice at their arrival. You may notice them cropping up on the menu at restaurants with a locavore bent and venerable publications such as The New York Times and Time magazine have devoted whole articles to this sophisticated cousin of the scallion. A recent New York Times report warned against the possibility of a ramp shortage, though this doesn’t seem to have stopped anyone from scooping them up by the bundle. I practically pounced on the produce guy when I finally found them at Whole Foods.   

Ramps are slender, like scallions, but they’re characterized by dark green leaves, red stem and white bulb. The entire ramp—save for the root—is edible, though some purists prefer to use the bulb and leaves separately. I’d never cooked with ramps before, and after reading about how flavorful the leaves are, I decided to use the entire ramp in a frittata.

I love frittatas. I grew up eating a potato and egg version that my mother made as an accompaniment to pasta fagioli—a traditional Italian dish made with pasta and beans. Truth be told, I was never a huge fan of potato frittatas, preferring to pepper my eggs with cheese and veggies, omelet style. Since ramps are not only pretty but pungent I thought they would pair well in an egg dish. I had some peas left over from last night’s dinner, so I threw those in as well in honor of spring. A few crumbles of ricotta salata added extra savoriness.

Frittatas are often made with six eggs, but I use three whole eggs and three egg whites to make the dish a little healthier. I don’t think it affects the taste at all, but use your own judgment. Frittatas are tasty any time of day, but this one would be especially ideal for Mother’s Day brunch this weekend. Pick up ramps while you can—they’ll be gone by Father’s Day!

Michelle Hainer /

Frittata with ramps, peas and ricotta salata

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 ramps
  • ½ cup ricotta salata, crumbled
  • ½ cup cooked peas (I used organic frozen peas that I had steamed the night before)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Run the ramps under cool water to remove any excess dirt, then gently peel the translucent skin off the bulb and trim the root. Chop up the bulb and then slice the leaves into thin, vertical strips. Lightly oil an ovenproof skillet and let it warm over medium high heat. In a large bowl beat the eggs, then add in the cheese, ramps and peas. When the skillet is hot, pour the egg mixture into the pan and turn the heat to low. Sprinkle the egg mixture with salt and pepper and let cook until the eggs are set but not brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Place the skillet in the oven for another 2 to 3 minutes, or just until the middle has cooked through. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Get more tips and recipes for seasonal eats at Made By Michelle.

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