April is the prime time to enjoy ramps, a garlicky spring vegetable that seems to pop up right now and then disappear after a few weeks. So what the heck is a ramp? They are wild leeks, most often foraged from shaded, woody areas and for many of us, one of the first signs of spring. If you like using spring onions or scallions (what most people also call green onions), they are little more pungent, with more of a garlicky/oniony flavor. Intrigued?
First things first: be prepared to forage for them, yourself, at the store. I've seen them in the produce section at markets and by the time I've made my rounds through the store and checked back, they're gone. Also, don't be tempted to buy handfuls of them unless you're prepared to eat them for days (and remember, a little bit of garlicky breath might be okay, but can be a bit much for your co-workers and the people around if you're eating these days for a week straight). But let's just say that you happen to grab a bunch of these beauties: what now?
Be prepared to clean them. If you're used to leeks, up your game for these little babies because they can have a lot of dirt in them. Check where the leaves meet the stem and give them a really good rinse. Next, if you want to start slow, just slice and saute them and pop them into a frittata with some mushrooms or on top of some fresh pasta with some black pepper and Parmesan cheese. If you grill them whole, the high temperature will make the bulb tender and crisp up their leaves. And yes, you can (and should) eat the entire thing. If you don't use them up right away, just roll them in a damp paper towel and place them in an unsealed plastic bag in the fridge. Ramps should be used up relatively quickly; a) they taste best when they're fresh and b) your fridge might start to smell a bit garlicky the longer the ramps languish in there.
I've included a link here to a great basic frittata recipe on epicurious.com, which gives you the basics. Making a frittata is easy enough to make for breakfast, although I like making one for dinner and topping it with a simple salad made of rocket (baby arugula), some kalamata olives and a bit of olive oil. With only a few steps (and finishing the whole thing in the oven for a few minutes), you might find yourself improvising with your own ingredients.