The first time I laid eyes on these colorful wild leeks was in Vermont in the late 1980s. I had just moved there and was getting acquainted with local farmers and discovering local foods. I must say it was love at first sight.
Since then ramps season can never come soon enough for me — and I make sure they are on the menu every week until they vanish.
Although they look dainty, ramps are in fact quite pungent, so a little goes a long way no matter what dish they end up in. My favorite way to cook ramps is to sauté them briefly in a little butter and olive oil until they wilt. Then I toss them with handmade ravioli, add them to soups or risottos, or serve them alongside poached eggs.
But here, my gorgeous bunch found its way into these unbearably light little tarts. The fresh goat cheese and lemon zest pair perfectly with the ramps’ slight garlic flavor to make these tarts an irresistible hors d’oeuvre or appetizer.
*Note: The tarts can be prepared to this point up to 12 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium-sized frying pan over medium-high heat. As soon as the butter is melted, add the lemon zest and sauté for 1 minute until the lemon zest starts to curl up but doesn’t brown.
Add the ramps and continue to sauté until the ramps have released their moisture and the leaves begin to turn dark green, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, quickly toss and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Brush a baking sheet lightly with melted butter. Place one sheet of phyllo on a work surface and brush lightly with melted butter. Top with another sheet of phyllo. Brush the second sheet of phyllo with melted butter and continue to stack and lightly butter each sheet until all 6 sheets have been used up.
Cut the stacked phyllo into 8 equal rectangles and place on the baking sheet. Top each phyllo rectangle with a little crumbled goat cheese. Top with the sautéed ramps and season with black pepper, to taste.* Bake the tarts until edges are golden, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.