Thursday, May 26, 2011

It’s Spring: Let’s Root for Ramps!

In all my attempts to be nutritionally savvy, one challenge I find is eating seasonally. In theory it sounds quite simple, but what if it’s May and I happen to have a craving for Brussels sprouts? Yes, I know “Bad Dietitian”; so what is another green vegetable that will satisfy my veggie yearning in season? Ramps! Only in season for a few brief spring to pre-summer months, how seasonally chic.

Why Have You Done a Good Thing?

Ramps, or wild leeks, are in the onion family and look like a combination of onions, leeks, and scallions. They have a white bulb, green leafs, and white/pink stalks, with an onion-garlic aroma & flavor. 1 cup has only 54 Kcal, 0 fat, and 2 g fiber, making this unique veggie a great Bang for your bite. Ramps contain vitamin A, vitamin C, selenium, and chromium. Vitamin A is good for your vision, while vitamin C holds the title for powerful antioxidant: did you know it plays an important role in wound healing, too? Vitamin C helps with connective tissue synthesis and collagen formation, AKA, building and repairing skin. As for selenium, our bodies turn it into proteins, or enzymes, that speed up metabolic activities in the body, such as thyroid gland actions and oxidation reactions within cells. Finally, ode to chromium for playing a vital role in the digestion and absorption of fats and carbohydrates, helping to synthesize fatty acids for our brain’s use, and playing a role in insulin regulation (the protein that regulates the uptake of sugar from our blood into the cells of our body, for use).

At the market, look for…

Leafs that are dry, firm, and not yellowing or wilted

Store them…

Sealed tightly in an air-free bag in the fridge (after cleaning and trimming). Use as ASAP, as these ramps are a bit temperamental to storage.


The whole thing! To use in a dish, clean thoroughly (as it is a root veg), trim off any loose ends and cut away any spots. Then chop from the green leaves down to the bulb The flavor is stronger as you go down from leafs to the bulb, so for a more milder flavor, use only the greens.

Try a ramp pesto, check out this recipe we found online.

Cook this seasonal dinner tonight…

Spaghetti a la ramp

  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti (cooked al dente in salted water, according to package, reserve ½ cup of pasta water for later use)
  • ½ lb ramps, blanched and chopped
  • 1 box cherry tomatoes, halved
  • parmesan cheese, freshly grated, about ½ cup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • fresh basil, washed and roughly chopped

  1. Wash and trim ramps. To blanch, submerge in boiling water for 15-30 seconds, remove instantly and roughly chop from the leaves through the bulb.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat, add halved cherry tomatoes and ramps, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the pasta and ½ cup of pasta water, mix.
  4. Add in grated Parmesan and basil and mix to combine, taste first, and then season with salt & pepper. Serve immediately.
--Samantha Jacobs, MS RD CDN

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