Ramp season! One of the most fleetingly delicious seasons of the year, though it’s really more of a moment than a season. Every year we wait and keep a keen eye out, and when we spot them, we hit the ground running. We put ramps in salads and grain bowls and mac and cheese. We make spaghetti with ramps and chilies. We eat goat cheese and ramp grilled cheeses. We fry them up and make bruschetta and, honestly, just eat them with some olive oil and flaky salt, hot and grassy and garlicky right out of the pan. They’re spectacular: more delicate in flavor than garlic or spring onions, more leafy green than scallions or leeks. If you’ve read Heat, you know how Mario Batali describes them to Bill Buford. If you haven’t, let’s just say he likes them a lot.
Ramps start showing up in markets around mid-late March. They hang around for a few weeks, and while they’re sitting pretty in farmers market bins and, increasingly, grocery store produce aisles, we’re buying and cooking and eating and starting again. By the time the really warm weather starts coming around, they’re gone.
But for now, they’re still around—not for long, though, so run out while they last, grab them by the bouquet-ful, and get cooking. You can toss them in anything where you might use garlic, scallions, leeks, or onions during all those other rampless months of the year. Serve them alongside meat or fish, add them to soups and vegetable/rice/pasta dishes, or just eat them right up with good cheese and bread.
This week, we decided to toss them on top one of our favorite go-to, seat-of-your-pants, we-have-to-eat-in-the-next-20-minutes-or-else-we’ll-miss-the-movie meals: the frittata. Satisfying, delicious, and a fantastic way to clean out your fridge, frittatas are like pasta in that: a) you can throw just about anything you want in them and you’ll get a great meal, b) you most likely have all the ingredients you need to make a great one in your kitchen right now, and c) you get maximum taste points for minimal effort exerted. It’s also pretty hard to make a frittata that isn’t a looker. Put a frittata, some crusty bread, and maybe a salad or some fruit on your table and you’ve got one gorgeous meal.
Our version here is packed with spring things and some of our favorite flavors: mushrooms, potatoes, herbs (chives and basil), ramps, and—wait for it—a gloriously melty cheese with tiny bits of truffles. Yessss.
We like to slice the potatoes nice and thin and crisp them up, quickly cook the mushrooms, pour in the eggs with fresh herbs, and top it all off with sautéed ramps and plenty of cheese that melts dreamily. By arranging the ramps over top, they get a wonderful char to them as you finish the frittata off under the broiler. You wind up with a great balance of flavor and texture, and not to mention, something that looks really, really pretty.
We like to add something to frittatas to give them some heft—something like potatoes. They’re a great foundation and really turn the light dish into a real meal. We also like to add fresh herbs and cheese. But one of the most beautiful things about the frittata is that there really isn’t anything that you can’t put in. (There are maybe some things that shouldn’t be put in… but who are we to tell you what you can and can’t do with your frittata.) Allow us to suggest a couple of gentle guidelines, however, for maximum frittata enjoyment:
1. Don’t overcrowd or overcomplicate the frittata. A few ingredients is all you need.
2. You should probably add cheese.
And that’s really it. Everything you need to know about frittatas in two lines! But the longer we gab on about all of this deliciousness, the more ramp time that’s wasting away, so we’ll leave you to it. Because even though you can put anything you like in your frittata, you really ought to give this one a try. The salty, earthy, bright, and fresh flavors are perfect together. And pretty soon, you’ll have to wait a whole year to eat it again…!
Go go go go!
* * * *
Spring Frittata with Charred Ramps
Serves 2-3 people
We used 4 whole eggs and 2 egg whites for a lighter, slightly healthier frittata. The result is incredibly delicious, but if you want to use all whole eggs instead, you can certainly do that.
– 4 eggs (preferably at room temperature)
– 2 egg whites (also ideally at room temp)
– 1 tbs milk
– 4 ramps with the roots off
– 6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
– 1 medium Yukon gold potato, thinly sliced into half moons (We like to leave the peel on for some texture, but feel free to take it off.)
– Truffle goat or cow’s milk cheese that will melt nicely (If you don’t want/can’t find cheese with truffles, feel free to swap in your favorite melty cheese.)
– Handful of fresh chives, chopped
– Handful of fresh basil, chopped
– Black pepper
* Whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, salt, and pepper. Set aside on your counter.
* In a skillet over medium heat, add some olive oil, and when hot, sauté the ramps whole (make sure they’re dry when they go in) until softened. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Remove from heat and set aside.
* While ramps are cooking, warm a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add in potatoes and a sprinkle of salt. Cook until golden, stirring occasionally.
* Scoot the potatoes over to one side of the pan and move the pan slightly off the burner so that this area isn’t directly over the heat, but the empty space is. Turn the heat down to medium and add mushrooms with a pinch of salt to the cleared space. Cook, stirring gently until mushrooms have softened. Mix potatoes and mushrooms together and center the pan back over the heat again. In your oven, position a rack about 6–7 inches from the top, and turn on the broiler.
* Add the chopped basil and chives to the waiting eggs (reserving a little for garnish later), and give a good whisk. Pour over mushrooms and potatoes. Tilt the pan so eggs cover vegetables and settle into any nooks.
* Cook the eggs, gently nudging in the edges as they set with a wooden or silicon spatula so that the raw egg can leak over and cook. Don’t stir or scramble. Cover pan with a lid just for a minute or so to help everything set.
* When the eggs start to set, arrange the ramps on top and crumble the cheese over everything. Make sure the ramps don’t stick up, or they’ll burn up in the oven.
* Slide the frittata onto your oven rack and broil for just a few minutes (probably less than 5). The exact time completely depends on your broiler. Keep a very close eye on the frittata—it will burn in a heartbeat!
* Remove from the broiler when the eggs are puffed and golden on top and the ramps have a nice char.
* Serve immediately!
© 2015 Lee and Lou Cook. All rights reserved.