We dole out the facts, recipes, and loads of inspiration for two of spring's most prized ingredients.
Meet the elusive ramp: a beautifully wispy distant cousin to the onion. Ramps appear briefly—for only about six weeks—in farmers' markets before vanishing for another year. Don't be deceived by their delicate, lily-like leaves: These alliums pack a pungent, garlicky bite balanced by a faint whiff of musk. Edible from end to end, a few go a long way. They're worth hunting down and then pairing with other peak ingredients like grassy asparagus, nutty morel mushrooms, and tiny new potatoes for the first feasts of the season (keep clicking for the recipes).
Visit Bigg Riggs Farm to find pungent ramp mustard ($6). Use it to top field peas or add new life to your favorite sandwich, or combine with low-fat sour cream for a tangy veggie dip.
Folklore holds that ramps have medicinal properties to combat premature aging—not that you will need an incentive to chomp
on this tasty pickled version.
Pickled Ramps and Asparagus requires only 8 minutes of hands-on time. After preparing, just cover and chill for 2 days. Use them as a unique condiment at spring barbecues, as a garnish in a spicy Bloody Mary, or even a la carte for a quick munch.
View Recipe: Pickled Ramps and Asparagus
Ramps give new flavor and a fresh, healthy spin to potato salad. Crunchy radishes, savory bacon, and a dressing made of white
wine vinegar and Dijon mustard also bring a heavy hit of flavor. To finish, just add a sprinkling of salt and fresh ground
pepper for a dish that will surely be a delightful addition to any table.
View Recipe: Warm Potato Salad with Ramps and Bacon
One of spring's finest offerings is the morel mushroom, with its nutty, meaty flavor and wonderfully whimsical appearance. The nooks and crannies hide lots of grit, so be sure to submerge the mushrooms in cold water, swish vigorously, and gently pat dry before you cook and eat them. Sauté in a bit of butter or oil, and pair with scrambled eggs, pasta tosses, or pizza.
Showcase spring's mighty morels in this simple, yet elegant side dish. Garnish with fresh chopped ramp greens or chives if
you don't have the former on hand.
View Recipe: Smoky Asparagus and Mushroom Sauté
You can also use shiitake mushrooms and edamame, good year-round alternatives to morels and fava beans.
View Recipe: Farfalle with Fava Beans, Morel Mushrooms, and Mascarpone