A 'Ramp' To Healthy Eating


As the earth thaws, life slowly begins to creep out. Everybody is up and about after a LONG nap. Birds are back, animals are out of hibernation and green things start to peek out of the dirt. This is the celebration of life. Spring has finally dawned upon us! Spring season brings new hope with its arrival. Just like our mind is full of creative projects and plans for warmer time, nature is also intently planning things! Nature has bloomed with glee to finally present to you its bounty. For the next 6 months, we will be gifted health in the form of various fruits, vegetables, colours, textures and fragrances.


The first present out of nature’s basket is this wild-grown plant- Ramp. Ramps are also called wild leeks or wild onions. Once upon a time ‘nectar of life’ for Native Americans, today, it is a Chef favourite. North American Chefs and gourmets go berserk over the arrival of ramps.



What’s the fuss about?


Ramps are not something you can walk into a grocery store and buy in the middle of September. Ramps are highly seasonal, just about 2-3 weeks after the land is thawed and conditioned with warmer showers. Ramps grow in the wild. Yes, something that is truly NON-GMO about these little green things. There was a time when many vegetables were naturally organic and non-GMO. Agriculturally speaking, things have changed and everything is available under the same roof all year round- from asparagus in December to pumpkins in May. But here is a vegetable that is untouched by this vegetative revolution. Looking at the present situation, demand is exceeding the supply. Before they are corrupted, run to the nearest patch of wild ramps and enjoy the beauty while it lasts.


Ramps, for that matter any wild vegetable, are a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Spring season brings allergies, nasal congestion, bronchitis, pneumonia, and related infections. Our go-to solution is to load up on Vitamin C. However, nature has a simple, cost-effective solution for you. Ramps, that are available only at the beginning of spring are generously rich in Vitamin C. Also rich in polyphenols (that are known to fight cancer), iron, choline, vitamin A, selenium and fibre! Another benefit of this plant is to maintain a good intestinal diversity. When we consume wild grown plants, that are not treated with pesticides, we allow the good bacteria to thrive. Not only to keep the plant healthy but also to let us reap the benefits of its nutrient content. Including this vegetable in our diet will joyfully save us $$ on allergy medication or at the doctor’s office.


But where can we buy it?

Very few, and I mean really FEW local farmers carry about 10 bundles of this vegetable once a week. Grocery stores? Lond odds. Not enough to meet their quantity and consistency standards. However, you may be able to dig it out for free if you enjoy foraging.


How to identify?

Ramps typically grow under the shade of deciduous trees like maple or oak, in rich soil. They belong to the onion or garlic family. Therefore, the bulb is buried in the soil. And leafy greens, 2 to be precise, grow on the surface. This is what a patch of wild ramps will look like.





How to grow them in your backyard?

The easiest way would be to forage some ramps with roots and replant them in your yard. Let them mature and flower, so you have more the following year. It takes them about 5- 7 years to fully mature, to be able to flower. The planted bulbs, however, will spring out each year just when winter has bid adieu. You may also buy seeds and start from scratch. It takes about 6 to 18 months for them to grow. Plant them in the shade of a deciduous tree like maple or oak. Though they love water, water-logged soil is not good for their growth. They are very delicate and do not like direct sunlight. Once the season is over, the bulbs will survive harsh weather and be ready for next season. The most sustainable and ecologically recommended way of harvesting them would be to leave the bulbs and cut just the stem and leaves out.


How to cook?

Here are a few recipes that will help you enjoy Ramps this spring.


1. Simple stir-fry

This is recipe is a delicious union of Ramps with Ayurveda- using turmeric, cumin and other spices to increase the availability of vitamins and minerals for the body. In other words, the use of these spices and combinations will help better absorption and assimilation of this wild vegetable.

Ingredients:

2 bunches of ramps, washed, and cleaner

1 carrot, cut into batons

⅛ tsp cumin seeds

⅛ tsp turmeric powder

⅛ tsp coriander powder

1" pc ginger, grated

Salt

Oil

Method:

Heat oil in a wok. Add cumin seeds. Once they sputter, sear carrots.

Add turmeric, coriander, ginger, and saute for 2 min.

Then add the ramps, whole or cut in half.

Sprinkle some water (about a ¼ cup) if needed. Cover and cook for 3 min on low heat.

Season with salt and serve hot with chapatis or bhakris.

*Ramps can also be used to make parathas, theplas or fried like pakoras.



2. Ramp pesto

Ingredients:

10 washed, cleaned ramps

1 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup basil leaves

¼ cup Pecorino/ Reggiano grated

3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp capers (optional)

2 lemons, juiced and zested

1 tbsp maple syrup

¼ cup walnuts, toasted

Olive oil

Salt

Black pepper

Method:

Add all the ingredients in a blender except olive oil

Slowly add olive oil as you blend the rest

Enjoy on toast, pasta, salad or with cured meats


3. Pickled ramps: https://www.fromachefskitchen.com/pickled-ramps/


4. Sauteed ramps: Simply saute ramps in some butter, and finish with salt, pepper, lemon juice.

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