So far as a ramps recipe goes, this is an easy one.
The origins of this recipe are Italian, where they call this method agrodolce, or sweet-and-sour. You can do this to any sturdy vegetable, from ramp bulbs to pearl onions, small turnips, carrots, parsnips, and even things like cauliflower.
It is a great accompaniment to grilled poultry or fish.
A word on using ramp bulbs. Ramps are being overharvested in some places, and care needs to be taken to ensure that we’ll have harvests for generations to come. I only recommend buying ramps from sources that are sustainably harvesting them, or better yet, dig them from your own land. I do not recommend that you dig up ramps on public ground.
If you do have a place to dig bulbs that you are certain won’t get harvested by others, dig no more than 10 percent a year. Also, you will want to make sure any little bulblets are put back in the soil, and you will want to snap off the roots of the bulb, which you can do easily in the field. Re-bury those roots and the ramp will regrow. Here’s a great overview of growing ramps.
Or you can sidestep all this by using pearl onions, or, if you want to be truly authentic Italian, cipollini onions — this was a cipollini recipe before it became a ramps recipe.
The dish is pretty straightforward. Regular olive oil, no need for the expensive stuff, some decent honey, and decent vinegar. I really like what sherry vinegar does for this dish, but you can use other vinegars.
Once made, your sweet and sour ramps will keep a week in the fridge. Serve them hot or at room temperature.
Sweet and Sour Ramps
- 1/2 pound dozen ramps or pearl onions
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons white wine or sherry vinegar
- 3 tablespoons light-colored honey
- Black pepper for garnish
- Clean the ramps or pearl onions and remove the leaves or green parts; use them for another recipe.
- If you are using pearl onions, boil them for 5 minutes in very salty water before proceeding. This softens them.
- Saute the ramps in the olive oil over medium-high heat until they brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add honey and vinegar and swirl to combine in the pan. Turn the heat down and simmer until the liquid reduces to a glaze, about another 6 to 8 minutes.
- Serve hot or at room temperature with some fresh black pepper.