Ramp Week: Grilled Ramps
Sometimes the simplest methods are the best. Strike that. Usually the simplest methods are the best. We continue our rampage with my favorite cooking method: simple grilling. Fresh spring ramps, tossed in a bit of olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and cooked over a roaring hot fire. It's the ideal way to enhance the natural flavor of this awesome wild spring vegetable.
There's nothing complicated about it. Just build a fire, oil and season the ramps, and throw 'em on. Then get ready, because these suckers cook fast.
Ramps are naturally milder and sweeter than either scallions or leeks, their closest counterparts in the standard supermarket, and grilling enhances that sweetness. See, as they cook, their natural complex sugars break down into simpler sugars like glucose and fructose, which then go on to recombine, break down again, recombine again, and so on, without even taking a break for lunch. The result is a sweetness that is far more complex and satisfying, just as caramel is more flavorful than plain white sugar.
The best part? They're done and ready to serve in just about two minutes. So sweet and tender I like to serve them for dessert after an afternoon of grilling.
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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.