April 29, 2008

Clearly, I’m atoning for Saturday’s seasonally-disfunctional post (stuffed bell peppers, in April!). Between yesterday’s favas beans, asparagus and peas and today’s ramps (RAMPS!!!), I’d like to think my errant eating has been absolved. So, about these ramps: I was beyond excited to find them at the market. They were tucked haphazardly among the chiles, unmarked (probably the only reason I was able to score some) and unpriced (ominous, for sure). I gathered up a bunch and sort of lost myself for a second, marveling at how simultaneously humble and stunning they looked. I spotted a nearby employee and asked him, wide-eyed and awestruck, “Are these ramps?” He smiled knowingly at me and assured me that they were indeed. Clearly, he understood. As I returned to my handful of the beauties, he mentioned: “$11.99 a pound, by the way.” I snapped out of my reverie, promptly returned half-a-handful of the ramps and began scheming about how I’d put the remaining ones to use.

Well, let me just tell you that the Internets were surprisingly unhelpful. There were not a ton of ramp recipes out there. As I was just about to abandon recipes altogether and go freestyle (probably a little reckless, seeing as though I’d never actually tasted ramps before), I found a recipe at Food & Wine’s site for a white cheese pizza with ramps.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

Since I really like white cheeses, absolutely love pizza and was pretty sure that ramps were going to be my new best friend, I was intrigued. And when I read the recipe’s headnotes, I was sold:

“The name Chicago comes from the Algonquin word chicagoua, which some historians say means “ramp”-a wild onion with a delicious garlicky flavor. That’s one reason Chicago chefs like Tony Mantuano [this recipe’s author] feel a sentimental attachment to the pungent spring plant.”

Not only is this great city apparently named after the ramp, but I had to giggle at the Wayne’s World-ness of this excerpt (anybody? the scene where Alice Cooper explains to Wayne and Garth the Algonquin roots of “Milwaukee”?). Anyway, Goodbye “Second City” (I’ve always hated that nickname), hello “Ramp-Ville” (Ramp Town? Rampopolis?)!

I adapted the recipe very slightly. I halved the recipe (because we’d be eating this as a side with a bowl of steaming hot soup, which was exactly what the sub-Spring temperatures called for) and decreased the cheeses (I didn’t want to overwhelm the ramps). To showcase the ramps, I rolled out the dough into a long, thin rectangle, so that I could leave the ramps intact, rather than cutting them into segments.

The recipe calls for quickly blanching the ramps in boiling water before draining them and arraying them atop the pizza. As soon as the ramps hit the water, I knew we were in for a treat: they immediately released a pungent, oniony aroma—one that reminded me of the corner of my grandpa’s garden where his chives grow. A few minutes in a blistering hot oven later, the pizza (really, more of a flatbread) looked rustic and gorgeous. And it tasted incredible too. The crust was perfectly thin and crackly and browned. And then, the ramps. So, so (soo, sooo, soooo) good. They were an earthy, garlickly sweet and each bite was completely alive. In short: totally worth the hype. Sigh.

White Cheese Pizza with Ramps
Food & Wine

For the Dough

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water

For the Topping

10 ramps or medium scallions
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
1 cup coarsely grated fresh mozzarella cheese (4 ounces); see Note
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk the flour together with the yeast, salt and sugar. Pour in the water and stir well with a wooden spoon to form a dough. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few minutes until smooth. Transfer the pizza dough to a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let stand in a warm place until the pizza dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Set a pizza stone on the bottom or on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat to 500° for at least 30 minutes.

Make the topping: Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Blanch the ramps until they are bright green but still al dente, about 1 minute. Drain, pat dry and cut into 1-inch lengths.

Punch down the pizza dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured pizza peel or an inverted baking sheet. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle on the grated mozzarella in an even layer. Scatter the blanched ramps over the mozzarella and season lightly with salt and pepper. Top the pizza with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Slide the pizza from the peel onto the hot stone. Bake for about 8 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the pizza crust is browned and crisp on the bottom. Transfer the pizza to a work surface, cut into wedges and serve right away.

23 Responses to “Ramps!!”

  1. RecipeGirl Says:

    I wonder if they’re cheaper if you’re lucky enough to find them at a Farmer’s Market? I haven’t seen them yet, but like you said… they could be tucked away in produce somewhere and I just haven’t noticed them.

    Your choice was great. I’ve always wondered what I would do with them if I had them! Probably I’d google away as you did! (or make this pizza 🙂 )

  2. Amanda Says:

    I won’t lie- I’ve never heard of ramps before this post. I know, what a shame, huh? But this flatbread pizza sprinkled with pizza seems like the perfect palate for these onions.

  3. Ali Says:

    I also have never heard of ramps (this is no surprise)… However, I will admit when I began to read this post and saw words such as ramps and reckless being used in the same sentences, I thought the story was for sure going to be about your driving and some ramp mis-hap. WHEW… Ramp away! oh and looks, GOOD!

  4. eggsonsunday Says:

    Kristin, I had the same reaction as you when I saw some ramps at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago — RAMPS!!!! I had never had them before, but they’re delicious, aren’t they? Yes, totally worth the hype. You know I love pizza, so this is a winning combo! 🙂 –Amy

  5. Oh, yum. This looks like the perfect vehicle for ramps. I found some at my local greenmarket, used one bunch in dumplings, and know what I’ll be doing with the second. Thanks for the post!

  6. Mario Batali’s Spaghetti with Ramps is a favorite of mine when ramp season comes around:


    I also love just wrapping bundles of them in a strip of bacon and cooking them until the bacon is crispy.

  7. Francie Says:

    Ah, ramps. We ate those growing up soaked in bacon grease and fried. Healthy stuff.

  8. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    RecipeGirl: Sadly, we are still a few weeks off from any Farmers Markets in Chicago. I found them at Whole Foods, so I suppose the sticker shock was predictable. I hope you find some!

    Amanda: Ramps are new to me too! Like I said, this was my first time cooking them. I’ve read about them, seen them on restaurant menus, etc. They seemed so elusive, I had to give them a try when I got the chance. And, hey, any excuse to make pizza …

    Ali: Thanks, dear sister, for outing me as a bad driver. Which is true and all, but still. See if I call you next time I making ramp pizza.

    Amy (eggsonsunday): This would be completely Friday Night Pizza-worthy! The only trouble would be finding the ramps!

    amy @ minimally invasive: Two bunches?? I’m so jealous. If you try this pizza, let us know what you think.

    Jennifer: Oooh, that Batali recipe looks great (even though I’m a little anti after spending a morning re-dialing Babbo a month before my desired reservation, all for nothing!). And I love the bacon wrapped bundle idea too. If anything could make ramps even tastier, I have a feeling bacon is just the thing.

  9. David Says:

    Ramps are alive and well at the Farmer’s Market in Madison and I experimented with them this past weekend in a salad and also in grilled cheese the next day. Definitely going to try ramps on pizza next!

  10. Anne Says:

    To be honest, I’d never heard of ramps before they appeared in an episode of “Top Chef,” but this recipe looks gorgeous. I must see if I can find any ramps around here sometime soon.

  11. Ellie Says:

    I have been traipsing around in the woods looking for ramps but too afraid to dig any up in case I might have misidentified them! Wishing we had a whole foods here, no ramps in our stores yet. The pizza looks fabulous. I have a recipe for ramp quiche I am dying to try, adding your pizza to the list too.

  12. Cindy Says:

    I’ve never had ramps before,
    I wanna give it a try,
    Wonder where can I find it..

  13. norecipes Says:

    Nice! I just made something similar tonight with gruyere and ramp confit.

  14. michelle Says:

    i’m pretty sure it would be rampberg. or rampville, but pronounced all french-like.

    my only weekend goal is to get to the greenmarket early enough to get ramps.

  15. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    David: So now I’m totally considering a drive up to Madison this weekend for a quick trip to the farmers market. Hmmm …

    Anne: Ramps are pretty new to me too. I can only imagine what the Top Chefs did with them (I just started watching this season).

    Ellie: You might wish for a Whole Foods, but I wish for woods to traipse around in. Grass is always greener, I suppose.

    Cindy: I think farmers markets would be your best bet.

    Norecipes: Sounds delicious!

    Michelle: Ha! Good luck at the greenmarket!

  16. OK, I made this pizza a couple of nights ago, and it was DELICIOUS. I’ll probably make it again tonight with my remaining ramps. Yowza.

  17. Ellie Says:

    Just had to let you know I found them in the woods when I was out running today, perhaps it is a bit colder here than other places so they took a while longer to come up. And my god they are like heaven. We made your pizza recipe with a few small changes (not many!) and it was wonderful. Thank you for sharing it, this has got to be one of the best foods I have ever eaten!

  18. Grant Says:

    This pizza looks fantastic! I’m so jealous. I so want to do something with ramps but for some reason I find them hard to find at my local farmers market. I hope I can track them down before their brief season is over. Thanks.

  19. celticmoon Says:

    Oooo, thanks for the recipe and links! Snapped up a couple beautiful bunches at the Madison(WI) farmer’s market today. Came googling looking for what to do with them…

    Whole Foods pricing is nuts. I thought $2.75 a bunch was maybe just a wee bit pricey and actually hesitated. But just for a moment.

    They are so fragrent and green and rich looking – they scream spring.

  20. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    Amy: Oh! I wish I had leftovers and I’d be making this again too. So glad you liked it. Thanks for reporting back.

    Ellie: Thanks for sharing! So glad you found them and gave the pizza a try.

    Grant: I’ll cross my fingers for you!

    celticmoon: $2.75 a bunch, huh? I was wondering how much they’d be at the farmers markets. You know, though, if I saw the ramps again at Whole Foods, I just might buy a whole pound. A pretty good use of 12 bucks, I’d say.

  21. […] Our Kitchen Sink has a yummy ramp white pizza recipe. […]

  22. lizzard l. Says:

    I’m writing a story about the Civil War, and needed a definition for “ramps”. After logging on to your site I realized that this veggie grows “rampant” in my front lawn every spring (I live near Richmond VA).Can’t wait to try them.


  23. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    lizzard l.: You are very lucky! I hope you give them a try!

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