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My hands smell of ramps. My hair smells of ramps. My pillow, my jeans, my bag—all smell of ramps. And I'm loving it.
My office now smells of ramps, too, thanks to my F&W colleague, Kristin Donnelly, who brought me a bundle from the green market yesterday. “Smell my ramps!” I offer to passersby. I have fewer visitors than usual.
The season’s first ramps, a.k.a. wild leeks, arrived in New York farmers’ markets last weekend. (This year’s harvest, which lasts just a few precious weeks, was a bit delayed, thanks to the deluge we suffered two weekends ago.) For me, the month of May will be one long, stinky party: No meal I prepare—breakfast (scrambled eggs and ramps), lunch (tuna-and-ramp-salad sandwiches) and dinner (whatever, with ramps)—will be devoid of ramps. Last night “whatever” was trout, which I stuffed with ramps and lemons and served with ramp greens wilted with bacon and cider vinegar. Snacks? Crunchy pickled ramps, of course. I’m eating one right now. And another—they’re wicked addictive. Here's my recipe:
Makes 1 pound
Right now, the ramps in New York are still young and tender, so there's no need to blanch them before pickling. In a couple of weeks their bulbs will be larger, so I'll give them a 20-second blanch in boiling water after I trim them and remove the greens.
1 pound of ramps
1 cup water
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
A pinch of red pepper flakes
1. Trim the roots from the ramps. Slide the slippery, outermost layer off the bulb end. Wash the ramps and spin them dry. Cut the ramps where the bulb meets the greens, reserving the greens for another use. Place the white parts in a clean jar.
2. In a saucepan, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the brine over the ramps. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.