I had no idea that ramps were a thing until I moved to New York and started frequenting the Union Square Farmer’s Market. Every Spring I would watch what I could only assume were savvy New Yorkers descending upon the one or two tables selling ramps with what appeared to be a mix of excitement and desperation. It was the kind of NYC behavior I had come to know as a reliable indicator of something good. One day I decided to jockey my way through the throngs of devoted ramp enthusiasts to try and see what all of the fuss was about only to feel slightly disappointed when I got to the table and saw what looked like a pile of unassuming spring onions. Despite the anticlimactic introduction, I knew better than to walk away. I bought a bunch and the rest is history.
There are about a million ways to prepare ramps. You can sauté them in a little butter, or chop them up like scallions and toss them into a salad, or whiz them in a food processor and make pesto. These are just a few ideas, but I honestly can’t think of a better way to immortalize a seasonal ingredient than to turn it into a compound butter. Butter, as we all know, makes everything better (I’m a huge fan), and compound butters are such an easy way to elevate simple ingredients into something special. The pungent onion-garlic flavor of the ramps pairs perfectly with the sweet, creamy taste of butter. I love it spread over bread. In fact, one of my favorite things to do when I’m entertaining in the spring is to put out a cutting board with a baguette, a bread knife, and a bowl of ramp butter and let my guests fend for themselves while I’m cooking dinner.
one bunch of ramps (ramps are typically sold in bunches, and one bunch should do)
1 cup (loosely packed) parsley leaves
1 tsp lemon zest
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Throw all of the ingredients into a food processor and you’re good to go. You can always add more butter if you prefer it a little less rampy. Transfer the butter to a small bowl to spread over bread, or use parchment paper to roll the butter into a log and refrigerate; it can then be sliced and used for sautéing, adding instant flavor to any dish.
So off you go — grab a bunch of ramps and make this happen. If you’re like me, you’ll want to swim in a vat of ramp butter and forget your worries. Pair it with a glass of Sancerre and I’m pretty all of your problems will disappear. This recipe highlights a beautiful spring specialty and brings meaning to an everyday staple like bread and butter. That, to me, is yoga — meditating on something simple and then savoring the rich and surprisingly complex essence derived from that practice. Enjoy!