Harvesting the Wild Ramp (aka Wild Leek)

20 Apr
2012
Posted in: Food, Ohio
By    3 Comments

Walking through the woods on Kelleys Island, Paul has his eyes on the ground. Paul always has his eyes on the ground when we’re walking through the woods in the spring. He’s looking for morels. We found one morel once, a big one, but we tragically left it in the fridge at our friend’s place when we headed back home from Madison…the fridge of our friend who hates mushrooms.

Eyes on the ground, we started noticing patches of leafy plants that we thought were ramps, or wild leeks. Around Chicago, the ramp is present on all locavores’ grocery lists, but it’s often elusive. I’ve only eaten them pickled and didn’t like them much in that preparation. Here, on this tiny island in the middle of Lake Erie, there are enough ramps to fill a stall at the Saturday Lincoln Park Farmer’s Market.

We checked the Forager’s Press site to ensure that what we had found were definitely ramps and that all parts were edible. Yes and yes. Then we started dreaming about recipes. We decided to make our small harvest stretch over two simple dinners. They’d play a starring role in a potato and (wild) leek soup and a ramp-y pasta sauce. They were delicious, not too pungent, fresh, spring-y.

The sense of satisfaction you get from finding food in the woods, gathering it, preparing it, and eating it is way bigger than you’d think it would be. Especially when the preparation and eating are also done outdoors. It’s not the same as bringing something home from the grocery store or farmer’s market and cooking it in your kitchen. It’s bigger and better, basic and complicated, ancient and modern.

Potato Ramp Soup
Serves 4 as an appetizer

2 potatoes
3-4 stalks of ramps
1 can of chicken broth
1/4 cup of milk or cream
Water
Butter
Salt and pepper

Saute diced ramps in butter with salt and pepper. Cube potatoes and add to pan with broth and enough water to cover the pototoes. Boil until potatoes are cooked through. Smush some potatoes with a fork to thicken the soup. Finish with the milk or cream. Garnish with wild chives if they’re growing next to your campsite.

Ramp-y Pasta Sauce
Serves 4

16 oz of tomato sauce
2-3 stalks of ramps
Olives to taste
Butter
Chili powder
Oregano
Salt and pepper

This is a play on our Olive Bar Puttanesca recipe. Slice then saute the ramps and sliced olives in butter with the chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add tomato sauce and cook for a few minutes. Toss with 12 oz. pasta.

An entire field of ramps.

An entire field of ramps.

A small shovel would work best for harvesting...we only had a pocket knife.

A small shovel would work best for harvesting...we only had a pocket knife.

Our harvest.

Our harvest.

Sauteing.

Sauteing.

Potato leek soup.

Potato leek soup. The chives were growing in our campsite.

Paul enjoys his soup...

Paul enjoys his soup...

  • http://www.fullclutch.com/ Sarah Weber

    Yum!  Soup looks delicious.

  • http://twitter.com/scottsala Scott Sala

    Avoid an “Into the Wild” edible fail. Test on Paul 1st. :) 

    Happy eating.

    • Lisa

      Agreed — there are very few things I’d eat plucked from the wild. If we didn’t have an internet connection and weren’t able to positively identify something, there’s no way I’d risk it! That said, onion relatives are everywhere and are generally safe to eat, the only risk is probably dog pee.