Ramps, Ramps, and Ramp Fritters

by Giff on April 15, 2009

ramps-shadow

Easter Sunday was a bit unusual for me this year.  I spent the morning with family, but ever-patient Lisl gave me special dispensation to spend the afternoon tromping around the woods with a bunch of other food bloggers collecting wild ramps, fiddleheads, stinging nettles, wild garlic, and more.  This outing was organized by Marc of No Recipes (who has a full write-up of the event and resulting menu on his blog, along with some great photos) and Jonathan of Lab 24/7.

ramps-forage-collage(Clockwise from top-left: ramps; stinging nettles; fiddleheads; non-edible but pretty flowers)

I now understand the special appreciation people have for ramps.  Douse them in olive oil and sea salt and toss under the broiler for a few moments, and the results will make you go weak in the knees.  Since Sunday, I have also eaten pickled ramps, sauteed ramps with the drippings from a roast chicken, made ramp fritters (recipe below), and later this week will be making a ramp risotto.  One has to strike when the iron is hot!

ramps-olive-oil

Unfortunately, with a newborn at home, I was not able to partake in the amazing feast put on by Marc and crew (with the talents of Stephane from Zen Can Cook and Claire from Colloquial Cooking), so I am not able to speak to the taste of fiddleheads and stinging nettles, but at least I am now armed with the knowledge to forage such things in future!  I had a great time, however, and spending time in the kitchen with that team prepping the meal was a blast.  Now, I had mentioned ramp fritters had I not?

Ramp Fritters

ramp-fritters-plate

Tonight’s recipe combines Richard Olney’s fritter batter with ramps, zucchini, parsley, and lemon. Beating the egg whites makes these feel quite light and decadent for something fried, and it is a technique I will use more often in future.

Fritter Batter
from Richard Olney’s Simple French Food
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs, separated with whites set aside
3/4 cup beer (I used Bass pale ale)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Fritter mixture
15 small to medium ramps, cleaned (treatment below)
2 zucchini, peeled and grated
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 stem of wild garlic or a small garlic clove, finely minced
salt and pepper
juice from half a lemon
splash of olive oil

First create the base of the batter by combining the flour, egg yolks, beer, olive oil and salt in a bowl and whisk just enough to blend everything together smoothly.  Let rest for at least an hour, which according to Olney helps it better coat the items to be fried (this can be skipped given this recipe’s particular approach, but I did it anyway).

In a colander, thoroughly squeeze the moisture out of the grated zucchini with your hands.  Place in a bowl.  Finely chop the stems of the ramps, chop a fine chiffonade of the leaves, and add to the bowl.  Stir in the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let this rest as well while the batter sits.

Beat the egg whites until the peaks hold, and fold them into the batter.  Gently stir the vegetables into the batter.

Heat up some olive oil (or a mixture or olive oil and vegetable/canola oil) in a large cast iron pan on medium-high heat, enough to well-coat the surface of the pan.  When a drop of water jumps and sizzles in the pan, you are ready.  With a decent-size soup spoon, place spoonfuls of batter around the pan, being careful not to overcrowd or let fritters touch each other.  Cook until golden brown on both sides, then remove to a drying rack or a plate with paper towel.

Serve with some fresh lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper. While I was not able to test this tonight, I also suspect that crème fraiche in addition to the lemon would make a wonderful complement to the fritters (a combination Marc used to good effect with the amuse bouche shortbreads he made).

- – -

I’m going to leave you with a shot of Stephane’s pickled ramps, which were heavenly, as an unsubtle attempt to peer-pressure him into blogging the spice ratios. These were so quickly devoured that they had to be hidden to save some for the evening’s pork belly dish. They also contributed to a killer martini.

ramps-pickled

Update: Liz from the Zested blog (wonderful photography), who I met that day, beat Stephane in getting the pickling recipe up. Check it out!

  • http://www.norecipes.com Marc @ NoRecipes

    OOooooo love the idea of fritters. They look delicious. I’m glad you got to at least take some ramps home and enjoy them with Lisl. Great photos too. The lighting in the park was a bit challenging.

  • http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com kat

    Oh yum! We have a few more weeks until ramps here but I can’t wait. They made a fabulous risotto last year. We’ll get some stinging nettles too, they are interesting…

  • http://1hundredmiles.blogspot.com/ Charles Thompson

    I’m going to have to move back to the Northeast if this is how a food blogger lives! Very envious. Don’t think I can do that kind of foraging in the desert that is Los Angeles. Nice post. Thanks!

  • http://haleysuzanne.wordpress.com Haley W.

    I’ll tell you what makes me go weak in the knees: fritters. Now if I could just get my hands on some ramps….

  • Giff

    Marc, thanks again for organizing.
    Hi Kat, the ramps aren’t out where I live either, but I’m betting they’ll be here in 2 weeks. Have to try stinging nettles!
    And thanks for dropping by Charles and Haley.

  • http://zencancook.com zenchef

    haha. I’m emailing you the ratios for the ramp pickle Giff! Simple stuff. I made another batch today at work, this stuff is really addictive.
    The ramp fritters look fantastic! What a great idea. Now you got me thinking of using them in a Chinese scallion pancake. Hm!

    Love the look of your new blog!

  • Giff

    Zen, in that case, I’m just going to have to spill the beans, I mean spices. My guess: fennel seed, mustard seed, coriander seed, black pepper, salt, sugar, water. vinegar? but you better send me amounts. I’m a demanding sous chef.

  • http://zested.wordpress.com Liz

    Hey Giff – The ramp fritters look great! Maybe I’ll make those tonight with the tops – the stems are going straight to more pickled ramp-tinis. Also, I posted a photo of you in my documentation of the day, hope that’s ok!

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ colloquial cook

    I bet Audrey loved the fritters! I know I would, especially if someone made them for me (although wait – it’s, technically, shallow frying – I can deal with that!)
    Giff – is that a flower next to the address bar?

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    I so want to try ramps this year. Those fritters look really good!

  • http://sassandveracity.com kellypea

    First off, I LOVE the look of your new site. Very, very nice job on this. And so jealous of your outing. I’d have to go way up into our mountains to maybe sort of possibly come close to finding anything like what you’ve all found. Ramps? Swoon. I can only imagine. Fabulous eats!

  • http://baconandrhubarb.blogspot.com Rachel (S[d]OC)

    I have yet to try ramps. Maybe I need to learn the finer points of foraging and get to trying them. Or else I need to find an early spring farmer’s market!

    I love the idea of making them into fritters. Yum!

  • http://culinarytypes.blogspot.com T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types

    What fun! The fritters really look amazing – what a great way to enjoy your “harvest.”

  • http://www.anticiplate.com Anticiplate

    Hello! What a lovely site you have. Thanks for visiting my blog so that I found you! I have actually (don’t judge) never tried ramps! eek. Just last year I discovered dandelion greens. I am looking forward to reading more from you guys!

  • http://findingladolcevita.blogspot.com maryann

    yum! Those fritters look soooo0 good! ;)

  • http://chezannies.blogspot.com Nate

    Hi,

    I would like to include your recipe in our “Grow Your Own” roundup this month! For information on how to enter, please go to

    http://chezannies.blogspot.com/2009/04/hosting-april-2009-grow-your-own.html

    Aloha, Nate

  • http://ciaochowlinda.blogspot.com ciaochowlinda

    I have been living a sheltered life, never having had ramps yet. Your post and that recipe makes me want to go right out and try them. Yesterday I went foraging for wild greens – a kind of mustard green similar to a broccoli rape. The fields were brimming with them so I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me today to put them up for the freezer.

  • Giff

    This was actually the first time I had ever had ramps as well! Note for those who want to hunt for it, make sure you can separate between ramps and lily of the valley, which looks similar but are poisonous. Ramps have a slightly pink/purple tinge to the top of the stalk, and then smell like onion/wild garlic. We also noticed that the young lily of the valley leaves were mottled, while the ramps were not (mature lily of the valley leaves are not mottled however, and I do not know at what point that changes)

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com we are never full

    i’m in such awe of everything you all made at the 24/7 event! if we weren’t in buenos aires for easter, i’d be much more jealous of you all that you were able to participate together! you all make a great team. maybe it’s time to open up a restaurant? you, marc, stephan, claire? what do you think?

  • Giff

    lol@we are never full

    I think Stephane has “been there, done that” and is happy being a private chef! Marc, I don’t know what he is thinking about on that score. For me, while I love food and cooking is a creative outlet, I am worried that if I made it a business, rather than a passion, it might change things completely. As for Claire, oh la la, she is departing back to France soon!

  • http://culinarydisaster.com/wordpress Jeff

    This brings me back great memories of tromping through woods with grandma trying to find the elusive morel mushroom and coming out with a ton more than we bargained for.

    So sad that most people would overlook these wonderful morsels as weeds.

  • http://www.standingstraight.blogspot.com Claudia

    That looks good, unfortunately no ramps here in Hawaii. Do they taste like green onions. Maybe that and some spinach would be a substitute?

  • Giff

    Hi Claudia. They have a fairly unique flavor. Leeks or green onions would be decent substitutes but they are all different — luckily they are all tasty! Spinach or chard would be a nice addition (as you prob know, just make sure the moisture is squeezed out)

  • http://www.andreasrecipes.com Andrea

    Your foraged ramps are beautiful and I bet they were quite tasty in the fritters. Thanks for joining us for Grow Your Own in April!

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  • Lori

    Hi there, Romanian reader here, I figured I’d just let you know that the ‘non-edible but pretty plant’ (Ranunculus ficaria) is in reality quite edible! In fact, in Romania it is a beloved spring treat used in salads (you only use the leaves). We call it ‘untisor’, which translates as ‘baby butter’; if you try it you will understand why- it has an unctuous, buttery texture and great flavour. Keep up the good work! :-)

  • katie p

    I am so excited to know what I have salvaged from the forest are ramps and fiddleheads. I am reading all about cleaning and cooking them and will try the fritter recipe for sure. The flower looks a lot like the butter flower described by another comment and I have some of that in my garden as well. Have to look that one up.

    thanks!