Spring is a time of renewal and a season to which cooks look forward. We can take a break from heavy root vegetables and hearty greens and turn to brighter options like strawberries and asparagus. Among spring’s ingredients, ramps are one of the most prized. They are a tasty alchemy between leeks, shallots and garlic. They have a short growing season and are usually foraged not cultivated meaning that the supply is short and the price tag can be large. Pull on your hiking boots and inspect the cool, shady hillsides for the broad, green leaves of this elusive delicacy, or set your alarm clock early for the farmer’s market to pick up a few bunches, but hurry, because ramp season ends soon.
Chef Sean Fowler of Mandolin in Raleigh, North Carolina uses ramps in a crème fraîche buttermilk dip that he serves alongside house made cauliflower chips. Chef Fowler thinly slices the stems of the cauliflower and fries them to make crunchy chips that he dusts with a mixture of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, parsley and lemon dust. How do you make lemon dust you ask? Dehydrate lemon slices for 24 to 36 hours in a dehydrator or gas oven and then grind them in a spice grinder. The fine, lemony powder adds a pop of flavor and freshness to salads, your favorite avocado toast, the cauliflower soup you can make with the remaining florets of the cauliflower or the richness of Chef Fowler’s tangy Crème Fraîche Ramp Dip.