May 01, 2013

Roasted Ramps + Meyer Lemon Aioli

RAMPS! I never even heard of them until I moved to North Carolina. Otherwise known as spring onion, wild leek, wood leek and wild garlic, ramps grow wild in these parts. Their strong garlic aroma and pungent onion flavor have made them popular as they adapt to almost any cooking style.

In central Appalachia, ramps are most commonly fried with potatoes in bacon fat or scrambled with eggs and served with bacon, pinto beans and cornbread. Ramps can also be pickled or used in soups and other foods in place of onions and garlic. The mountain folk of the Appalachians have long celebrated spring with the arrival of the ramp, believing it to have power as a tonic to ward off many ailments of winter.

When my neighbor, Cheryl, told us that she found HUNDREDS of wild ramps growing in the forest on a nearby mountain I was excited to see them… and harvest some!

A bed of ramps with some pretty wild flowers
Harvesting… watch for poison ivy! There was a lot of it nearby.
These were small… found a patch with much larger ones nearby!

As you can see, the wild ramps were plentiful indeed. This was only one patch of dozens! Now I have so many ramps I don’t know what to do with them all. But I promise, I won’t have a “ramp recipe week!” 🙂

There’s something about eating wild foods you harvest yourself that is very primal. And these ramps are a rustic addition to any table. They sure needed some fancying up, so I decided on a lemon aioli. Aioli is a sauce that is traditionally made with olive oil, egg yolks, lemon juice and garlic. Of course, I changed it up and made it vegan and oil-free!
If you’ve never tried a Meyer lemon, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. They are actually a cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange. So they are not as sour and have a lot more flavor. I love them!

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • bunch of ramps (about 20)
  • small amount of olive oil (a teaspoon or so)
  • 1 tsp summer savory
  • crushed black pepper

      ~ for the aioli

  • juice of 4 Meyer lemons (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 3 cloves garlic
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Clean the ramps and remove the roots.
  3. Toss them in the small amount of olive oil, just so that they’re coated.
  4. Sprinkle with the black pepper and summer savory.
  5. Roast for about 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, make your aioli by placing all the ingredients into a high powered blender and blending until smooth.
  7. When the ramps’ leaves start to get brown, flip the ramps over (gently), cover the leaf side of the roasting pan with foil and pop it back into the oven on BROIL (with the oven door ajar of course). Watch carefully so that they burn.! Broil a few minutes until the bulbs have caramelized. They will look slightly transparent and be tinged with golden brown.
  8. Serve with the aioli and some chopped walnuts.

When the ramps are roasted, just like onion and garlic, they become sweeter and more mellow…

Serves 2 as an appetizer. Enjoy!

Healthy trails,

2 responses to “Roasted Ramps + Meyer Lemon Aioli”

  1. Oh my gosh! I have these growing in my front garden bed. For years I have been weeding them and tossing them into the compost pile! I will try eating them instead.

  2. Helyn says:

    Wow! That's so cool! Amazing how we can have food growing around us and not even know it. I hope you enjoy your ramps! 🙂

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