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Grilled Ramps: A delicious seasonal side dish

A member of the aromatic allium family, ramps are wild onions that are native to North American soils. Ramps emerge along the forest floors in the spring, nourished by the snow-dampened soils and announcing their presence to foragers with their highly pungent odor. Their intense garlicky-oniony aroma is a preview for their peppery and spicy, raw taste which most cooks temper through sauteing, pickling, or dehydrating into a powdered seasoning.

However, grilling is the fire-powered cooking method that’ll transform ramps into a vibrant seasonal side dish with unique flavors. Ramps consist of an aromatic stalk similar to a green onion and an edible green leaf, both of which will benefit from a quick stint on the grill. Super high temperatures from grill flames or hot coals will caramelize ramps’ natural sugars, creating a sweet and savory profile. The grill grates will effectively sear the stalks and leaves, adding smoky char.

The mild, warm climates of ramp cultivation coincide with peak grilling season. So, you can throw them on the grill with burgers, steaks, and hot dogs to round out your meal. Simply remove the roots, toss them in a bit of oil and basic seasonings and lay them over the grill. Since ramps are delicate leafy onions, they’ll only take about two minutes to cook. The stalks and leaves will provide the perfect stand-alone side dish or a flavorful and tender addition to a wide range of other dishes.

Food pairings for grilled ramps

spring onions smoking over a grill

Grilled ramps are a substantial side dish because you get the leafy greens plus the tender, sweet stalks. Finish them with a dusting of coarse salt and a drizzle of olive oil for a sophisticated side dish for a grilled steak, chicken, or fish. They’d also make a colorful and tasty addition to a grilled vegetable medley, providing a sweet, smoky, vegetal trifecta to complement eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, bell pepper and mushrooms.

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You can also make them the protagonist of a summary grilled salad by pairing them with grilled corn off the cob, chunks of avocado, and feta cheese with a bright lemon vinaigrette. Drizzle them with chili oil and soy sauce to serve over rice with a fried egg for an easy yet satisfying dinner. Their chewy, tender leaves and stalks would taste delicious smothered in melted Swiss or gruyere cheese and served with a crusty grilled baguette or sourdough slice. Chop them up and add them to a creamy, cheesy pasta dish or grill them alongside nopales and arrachera skirt steak to make the ultimate taco.

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