What the Heck Do I Do With . . . Ramps? (Video)

A video series in which we ask professional chefs to show us how to use those crazy ingredients we normally shy away from at the grocery store.

Ramps, also know as wild leeks, flood farmers markets and restaurant menus for a few brief weeks every spring. With all the hype, it’s tempting to snap up a bunch in the short time they’re available. But what’s the best way to prepare the garlicky-tasting vegetable?

Ramps are versatile, which is part of their attraction, and are found in everything from vinaigrettes to pasta. We love Estadio chef Haidar Karoum’s preparation: tossed in olive oil and salt, grilled, then topped with smoky romesco sauce and shaved Manchego cheese. Karoum makes the same dish with young scallions, which hit the market just as ramps fade out of season.

This recipe makes extra romesco sauce, which keeps in the fridge up to a week and in the freezer up to a month. Use it on fish, chicken, steak, veggies, soft-shell crab, or just about anything you throw on the grill this summer.

Ramps With Smoky Romesco and Manchego Cheese
Serves 4 as a side dish

2 bunch ramps or scallions, washed, rinsed, and roots trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup romesco sauce, recipe below
½ cup Manchego cheese

Heat a grill or broiler to high. Toss ramps with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Grill ramps or scallions, about 1 minute per side, until lightly charred.

Place ramps on a plate. Top with romesco sauce and Manchego. Serve at room temperature.

Romesco Sauce

Makes about 1 quart

1 white onion, peeled, halved, and cut into 6 chunks
1 whole jalapeño
4 medium red bell peppers, whole
4 large tomatoes, whole
1 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for vegetables
1 cup almonds, blanched and peeled
1 cup toasted, cubed bread
3 cloves garlic
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika)
2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste

See Also:

What the Heck Do I Do With . . . Ostrich Eggs?

Recipe Sleuth: Estadio’s Spice-Grilled Chicken

Set a grill or broiler to high. In a medium bowl, toss together the onions, jalapeños, red peppers, and tomatoes in 1 tablespoon oil and salt to taste. Grill on the grate or using a basket, turning occasionally, until they’re charred and lightly sweating juice (note: the time depends on how hot your grill/broiler is, though when very hot, it should take about 6 minutes). If broiling, lay out vegetables on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Put all the vegetables in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the seeds from the jalapeño and peppers and peel the peppers, but leave everything else intact.

While the vegetables are cooling, set a medium pan over medium-low heat and add the cup of olive oil. Toast the almonds, bread, and garlic. Cook until golden and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Remove the solids from the oil and set both aside.

Place the vegetables with their accumulated juices into a blender along with the bread, almonds, garlic, and 1 cup of water. Blend until combined, and then add the vinegar, pimenton, and 2 teaspoons salt. Blend again while adding the olive oil slowly to emulsify. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.