Ramps: What Up With That?

beheadedramps

There’s this SNL sketch that Craig and I find pretty funny. Actually, I’m not sure it’s even that funny; it’s more amusing than funny. Essentially, there’s this talk show host (played by Kenan Thompson) who hosts a show called “What Up With That?” and he sings a theme song (also called “What Up With That?”) and every time he starts to interview his guests, he starts the song again and nothing ever gets done and there’s a man in a red track suit dancing and sometimes a choir and weird cameos and confetti. Maybe you just need to see it, after the jump.

The reason I bring up this sketch in the context of this post is that lately my feeling about ramps–those omnipresent harbingers of spring, beloved by chefs and foodies everywhere–is: what up with that?

Ramps, also known as “wild leeks,” have a mellow oniony flavor and you can pickle them (as my friend Morgan did recently for a dinner party), cook them into an omelet, or, my preference, saute them with olive oil for a mellow, springy pasta. First I sauteed the base of the ramps, which I sliced:

sauteebulbs

Then I added the leaves, which I also sliced, along with some of the pasta cooking water:

wiltgreens

Finally, I stirred in the pasta and, to gild the lily, some toasted breadcrumbs:

pennerampsinpan

And here it is in a pretty bowl:

pennewithramps

I took a bite and after chewing for a minute a question popped into my head: what up with that?

Granted my bread crumbs were a little salty, so the delicate flavor of the ramps was a bit overwhelmed, but even so—why do people go crazy for ramps? I mean, I suppose it’s a nice flavor, but is it all that?

My friend Rob Meyer thought so. I gave him a bunch of ramps to cook with (I bought two at the Union Square Farmer’s Market) and he made this linguine dish which he kindly photographed and e-mailed to me:

robsramps.jpg

That’s Ramp & Scallop Linguine from norecipes.com. Rob had this to say in his e-mail: “The ramps really did taste different and more complex than onions and had so much flavor.”

So maybe I just killed my ramp flavor with the salty bread crumbs. Or maybe I’m just a jaded old foodie who isn’t so impressed by ramps anymore. Either way, I put the question to you, readers, as we head into the weekend. On the subject of the ramps, tell us in the comments: what up with that?

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