Caramelized Ramps

with browned butter

If you hurry, you can still pick up a bunch of ramps or two before it’s too hot for them to poke through the ground. Everyone loses their minds around ramp season, and I feel like it gets started earlier and earlier each year. I will admit, I do love them. They’re tiny, delicate leeks that have the most beautiful, earthy green leaves. Unlike a regular leek, you can eat the whole thing, so they’re perfect for preparing simply, without much fuss. The best way to eat them, in my opinion, is with over-easy eggs so that you can swirl the ramps around in the runny yolks. A creamy egg is an excellent match for each oniony, garlicky bite of caramelized ramps. Don’t get me wrong – they’re not overly pungent. They’re just right, in my opinion. The leaves, as previously mentioned, are especially good, because they cook down and wilt almost like basil does, but they have a much more prominent flavor that I adore. The only annoying thing about ramps is cleaning them. It takes a little bit of effort. Not too much, but definitely more than I put into cleaning over vegetables. You have to fill a big bowl with cold water, dunk them in there, swish them around, then pull them out and either dunk them again in a new bowl of clean water or rinse them under the faucet before patting them dry. After that, you’ve got to chop off the hairy bit at the end and pull off any extra skins or strings before you can cook with them. If you’ve got an extra 10 minutes to spare, though, I promise you’ll find it’s no trouble at all to take an extra step or two if at the end of it all you get these caramelized ramps in a rich browned butter sauce. Believe me, you’ll have a hard time not picking them out of the pan with your fingers and eating them all while standing in the kitchen.

Caramelized RampsSarah’s cat, Lily, me laughing at something forgettable, sandwich from The Meat Hook Sandwich Shop, and drinks at Featherweight.

Last night, I went out with my friend Emily to a play. I rarely ever go, because I always want to see plays that are prohibitively expensive. Emily is smarter than me, though, and doesn’t only look at Broadway shows when seeking out her weekly dose of culture. Doubly, she doesn’t only look to downtown or Brooklyn for plays, which is to say that I completely avoid the upper East and West sides, because they are far away and scary to me. I love to steal Roger Sterling’s line by saying that “I get a nosebleed above 60th,” but every once in a while I do find myself up there. Last night, we started off with dinner and drinks at Jacob’s Pickles, which was awesome. They pickle everything there and for $11, we got more pickled vegetables than anyone would ever be able to eat. There were beets, carrots, green beans and some good old fashioned dill pickles. I also sipped on a bourbon cocktail made with muddled citrus, to prepare myself for the arts, of course. After that, we were of course running a bit behind, so we power walked (I’m too cool to run) over to the theater to see American Hero, which was both very funny and incredibly sad. I need to make an effort to go see more stuff like this in the city – there’s so much of it and I’m not taking advantage of any of it!

Caramelized Ramps

This weekend is shaping up to be glorious and I can’t wait. The sun is out this morning, it’s a little breezy and in the 70s, and I’m ready, world! Tonight I’m getting a cocktail with a friend, then dinner with more friends, followed by a (planned) early night before hitting Rockaway Beach again tomorrow with the usual motley crew in tow. If we have the energy after the beach, we’ll go see O’Death at The Wick. That’s a big if, I imagine, but you never know. On Sunday, we’re doing maybe one of the most awesome things ever: seeing Jurassic Park for brunch at Nitehawk. I’m beyond excited. I remember my dad took my brother and me to see it when it originally came out over 20 (!) years ago, so it’ll be great to see it on the big screen again. If you live in Brooklyn or the surrounding area, you should definitely come check it out, too!

Caramelized RampsClean your ramps in a big bowl of cold water, then rinse them once more.

Caramelized RampsChop off the hairy ends and set aside until your butter has browned.

Caramelized RampsWhen the butter has browned, reduce the heat to medium and cook the ramps, turning every so often, until caramelized and slightly charred.

Caramelized RampsNomz, indeed.

Caramelized Ramps
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3 as a side
Caramelized ramps in browned butter.
  • 2 bunches ramps, cleaned well
  • 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  1. Cleaning ramps is a bit of work, but it's worth it! Fill a large bowl with cold water, then place your ramps in the water. Swish them around to remove as much dirt as possible, then remove them from the bowl and give them a second rinse under running water to remove any remaining grit. Change the water and do the same with your second bunch of ramps. Place the ramps on a dry paper towel, then top with another paper towel and pat out as much water as possible.
  2. Clean the ramps by removing the tip of each stalk. Set aside (don't slice them - they're perfect as is).
  3. In a heavy bottomed skillet, heat your butter over medium-high heat. Swirl around until browned and nutty, about 3-4 minutes. Add the ramps to the browned butter and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until the ramps are lightly charred and wilted. Serve with your favorite protein as a side, or enjoy them on their own.


18 Responses

  1. Anthony says:

    These must be a Northeast thing; I can’t recall ever seeing them in California. I bet these would go well chopped and tossed with pasta, too.

  2. The ramps are already gone from my store. Boo! I love roasting them with a little olive oil and pepper and serving them with king salmon. I just love that combo.

  3. Arlynne says:

    Just picked a bundle. Found acres and acres of them in my usual spot…

  4. Diane Kitelinger says:

    Looking at them out of my window in Southeastern Wisconsin. Yummm :)

  5. Gregory says:

    Yes northeast north america only. This year the season in now! And doesn’t last long

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