Wild Ramp Butter
“Ramps are up.” That’s the text message I received from my son a couple of days ago, heralding another delicious sign of spring. Ramps (also known as wild spring onions) are one of the first vegetables to sprout in the springtime. Their underground stalks and bulbs look like slender white scallions with leaves that resemble lilies of the valley. You might be able to find wild ramps at some local farmers’ markets but, if you’re adventurous, it’s fun to forage them for yourselves. These delicate vegetables are very versatile – you can pickle them, pesto them, grill them or tempura them!
To help preserve accessibility to wild ramps for future generations, the leaves can be sparingly harvested with no ill effects to the plant. If you purchase ramps at farmer’s markets, feel free to use the entire ramp, just removing the root hairs.
Because the ramp season is so short-lived I wanted to try and preserve their delicious flavor. The perfect solution is to make Wild Ramp Butter. This gorgeous green-flecked compound butter can be frozen and enjoyed throughout the year. There is nothing more delicious than savory ramp butter smeared on a toasted “everything bagel” or melted on grilled vegetables for a bright flavor boost. You can even tuck pieces of it under the skin when roasting a chicken. To make ramp butter you simply combine 2 parts softened butter with 1 part blanched ramps. If you want to freeze the butter for future use, roll it into a log, tightly seal the log in plastic wrap or wax paper then place it in a resealable plastic bag or foil. Slice off rounds of the butter when needed.
Similar compound butter recipes can be made with any of your favorite herbs. French chefs use compound butter in place of a sauce - often placing a round on top of a grilled steak. To make your compound butter extra fancy, rather than rolling them into logs use a pastry bag to pipe out little florets onto a piece of wax paper or freeze the butter in small decorative silicone ice cube molds.
1 pound butter, softened
½ pound ramps
Large bowl of ice water
Cut off the roots from the ramps. Rinse the ramps in a large bowl of cold water to remove any dirt or grit.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer. Put the ramps into the hot water and blanch for 30 seconds. Use a large slotted spoon (or spider) to remove the ramps from the hot water and plunge them into the ice water bath. This will halt the cooking and help retain the ramps’ bright green hue.
Blot the ramps dry on paper towels to remove as much water as possible.
In a food processor cream the softened butter until smooth. Add the ramps and continue processing until the ramps are minced and incorporated throughout the butter. Set aside any ramp butter you plan to use immediately.
To freeze the rest, transfer the butter onto sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper forming small logs (about ¼ pound each, or the size of a stick of butter). Roll the ramp butter into a log shape and tightly twist the ends to seal. Place the wrapped logs in a resealable plastic bag or roll in a layer of foil before freezing.