Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are a popular spring vegetable among chefs. They can be found in damp, forested areas in a region stretching south from Canada to Alabama, and west to the Dakotas. Their season is fairly short; ramps make an appearance in farmers' markets during April and May in most places.
Unlike regular leeks, which have thick, tough leaves that are rarely used in cooking, ramps have thin, tender leaves that taste sharp and spicy like scallions, but with herbal undertones. Their flavor mellows out with cooking. The whites can be used as well, in much the same way as you would use the white parts of scallions.[slideshow:
Ramps have come under scrutiny recently because of concerns about overharvesting. This is a plant that does not recover quickly from bad harvesting practices, since the plants require five to seven years to start making seeds. The best thing to do is to ask the purveyor about their practices to make sure they are harvesting ramps in a sustainable manner.
To help you make the most of this delicious spring vegetable at home, we've gathered up five great ramp recipes for you to try. So check out our slideshow for the recipes and get ready to ramp up your cooking.
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.