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Spring ramps are a highlight of Green City Market opening weekend

This past Saturday, Green City Market in Lincoln Park celebrated the start of the outdoor market season. On the bright sunny, yet windy day, the market was buzzing with some of Spring's freshest produce. For the avid chef, the arrival of ramps is a sure sign that Spring is here.

Finds from Green City Market opening weekend
Finds from Green City Market opening weekend Cristine Struble
Spring ramps at Green City Market
Spring ramps at Green City MarketKurman Communications

After the long, cold winter, both home cooks and chefs crave the bright garlic, onion flavors that a ramp offers. Since ramps are available for just a short period of time, everyone is ready to cook with these Spring delicacies.

At Green City Market, a few local farmers offer these Spring vegetables. With many visitors clamoring for these treats, it is best to arrive at the market early to ensure you leave with a bundle or two.

While professional chefs have a wide array of recipes for Spring ramps, the home chef may have a smaller repertoire for these vegetables. Chef Sarah Stegner, Prairie Grass Cafe, shared a simple dish that can be make with ingredients directly from the Green City Market vendors. From bread to butter, and of course, the ramps, all these ingredients are local and full of flavor.

Prairie Grass Cafe Ramp Crustini with Ramp Butter

By George Bumbaris and Sarah Stegner

Ingredients:

  • 1# of wild ramps ( I use Burton Farms from Indiana)
  • 1 Tbsp + ¼ cup olive oil (separated)
  • Salt
  • ½ cup sweet butter (softened)
  • 8 slices of baguette - sliced on the bias, 4-5 inches long each

Method:

Cook the ramps:

Take about 10 to 20 ramps depending on the size. Clean them very well. Divide the ramps into 3 parts: the bulb, the stem and the greens into three separate parts.

At the very beginning of the season you may need to only divide them into 2 parts the top greens from the bottom stem.

Blanch the stems and bulb in boiling salted water for a few minutes. Heat a medium size saute pan over high heat, add a 1 tablespoon olive oil. Put chopped up tops of the ramps into the pan along with the blanched stems and bulbs. Cook until tender and season well with salt. If they pick up a little charred color that can taste good too.

Make the ramp butter:

Place ½ cup of the cooked ramps in a blender with ¼ cup olive oil, 1/8 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Puree well. Fold the pureed ramps into the softened butter.

Assembly:

Spread some of the ramp butter onto a slice of baguette. Toast in the oven until hot and bubbly. The butter will be vibrant green. Add the remaining cooked ramps over the top and eat!