Along the Grapevine

Ramps (Wild Leeks) Omelette

21 Comments

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Where we live is well-known by many in Ontario for its abundance of Allium Tricoccum, otherwise known as ramps, wild leeks or wild garlic. Until this year, I never knew where to find them, and worried that if I did, I would be contributing to the over-harvesting I hear is threatening their survival. In fact, they have been so popular in some places that they are considered an endangered species and collecting them is restricted. Even where such restrictions do not apply, it is advisable to restrict oneself in public areas. So when invited by a friend to go foraging on her property where they grow rampant, and no other foragers compete, I couldn’t resist.

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They usually grow in woody areas, in clumps which are rooted firmly near the surface. Their broad, smooth leaves, often with a burgundy rim on the lower stems, and a scallion-like stem and bulb make them easy to identify, but if unsure, just rub a little of the leaf between your fingers and take a whiff – they have a distinct garlic-onion smell. The entire plant is edible, and the green part much more tender than the cultivated leek. To avoid over-harvesting, it is possible to pick just the leaf – one or two from each plant.

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Ramps are easily used in any recipe calling for scallions, and go particularly well with eggs. For my first dish I prepared an omelette by lightly sauteing 100 grams of whole leeks with 1 minced clove of garlic in 2 Tbsp of olive oil. I added to that a mixture of 6 eggs, 50 grams (or 1/2 cup) freshly grated parmesan and 6 Tbsp of cold water. Once cooked almost through on one side, I placed it under a broiler on a rack about 8 inches from the element until the top was done.

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If you don’t live in a wild leek area, or choose not to go foraging, you might find some ramps on sale at your local farmers’ market or a grocer’s. They won’t be around for long, so get them while you can. They can be frozen after only air drying or steaming lightly so that you can enjoy them later in the year.

Ramps (Wild Leeks) Omelette on Punk Domestics
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21 thoughts on “Ramps (Wild Leeks) Omelette

  1. Looks yum in not sure that grows wild here in the uk? X

  2. Oh I love ramps! I didn’t find any this year that I could pick and am thinking of buying some bulbs. They make wonderful pesto :)

  3. They’re so tasty. Recipe v. Good

  4. I’ve been curious about them since I first heard about them recently. Thanks for the great info on them. I don’t think I’ve come across them yet but will keep my eye for them in our farmer’s market.

  5. I planted ramps from plants that I bought from farmer’s market, but none showed up this year. They prefer to grow in the wild, I guess. I find garlic chives to be a decent substitute for them.

    • I have heard of people transplanting them with some success, although I usually find when you bring things out of the wild, they are not always happy. I transplanted some under our maple tree, and am curious to see if they survive. I also planted a dutman’s britches so they would have some familiar company.

  6. I’ve heard about wild garlic here as well, but I never found one. There are plants look like this in the forest when I go for a walk, but I am never sure. Next time, I will try smelling them. :) Wonder if I can grow them under my garden hedge….

  7. Someone else on my reader just posted about ramps. Now I really want some but haven’t seen anything like it growing wild down here. My mom has chives in her garden and uses them similarly to how you have in this omelette. It’s one of my favorite things to eat!

    • As Angie points out, chives are a good substitute with a similar flavour. With ramps, you really get the thrill of something so fleeting and rare, but it is easy to find other things just as good.

      • I haven’t used chives much in cooking, but I love them in omelettes. And for some reason I love them mostly whole rather than chopped up.

  8. Hi Hilda
    Great article! Thanks for the information and recipes on a plant that we take for granted.
    Brenda

  9. If you don’t have ramps but have room to grow something, just plant cloves of garlic and harvest them as “green garlic” in the spring before they bulb up. If you grow hard-neck garlic, you can harvest the curly scapes from them a little bit later and chop them for your omelette. And then they’ll keep growing into mature heads of garlic with lots of cloves. We love alliums!

    • We do grow garlic too, and this year I have a lot of voluntary ones – or ones I had planted and forgotten about, so for the first time, I am picking them ‘green’ to clear out that particular patch. We always harvest scapes too – they are great. I also find chives are a good substitute for ramps, but it has been a real treat having all of these mixed together.

  10. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Did I mention ‘Lovely’? Your photos are exquisite.

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