What do you say when a friend hand delivers you hand-picked ramps?

You say THANK YOU! And perhaps, I’m sorry you had to carry these stinky alliums around all day.

My friend Paul brought me beautiful, pungent ramps that he foraged with a trowel from a hillside near his home in Phoenicia, New York, in the Catskill Moutains. I haven’t been to the farmer’s market much lately so I was very grateful to receive the muddy gift. We met at a friend’s art show Thursday night, and by the time I arrived, an hour late, the ramp’s aroma had permeated the entire gallery.

Ramps are only in season in these parts from roughly the end of April to the second week of May, if you’re lucky. They come and go in a flash before wearing out their welcome. I think they’re in season for the perfect amount of time—long enough for you to enjoy them in scrambled eggs and pesto and maybe biscuits, but not long enough to get sick of them (I’m lookin at you zucchini). They make a graceful exit just as you’re fantasizing about what you’ll make next. Ramp risotto?

Exactly one year ago I wrote here about linguine with ramps. This year I thought I’d try something different. My friend Katherine recently mentioned that, at Reynards in the new Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, she’d eaten radishes on toast that had been slathered with ramp butter. Genius! Jill was coming for brunch today so I thought: ramp butter, toast, and runny eggs.

Turns out, kitchen maven April Bloomfield has a recipe for ramp butter (with quail eggs) in her delectable cookbook A Girl And Her Pig, which I used as a guiding light.

The lemon zest and lemon juice are just the addition to cut the richness of the butter. The ramps definitely make their presence known without being overly sharp, a result of sautéing them for two minutes. I plan on using the leftover ramp butter over pasta. It would be delicious slathered over biscuits or scones, or on dark rye bread with those radishes, anything with a bite.

It’s nice having a personal ramp dealer. I will not share his beeper number with you so don’t even ask. Get your own forager!

Ramp Butter

1/4 pound ramps, cleaned, roots trimmed
11 tbsp unsalted butter
zest from 1 lemon
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of chili flakes
3 anchovies, rinsed and minced (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and peper

Thinly slice the bulbs and stems of the ramps, and set aside. Slice the greens and toss some of these with the bulbs and stems, reserving the rest. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a skillet and when hot add the ramp bulbs and stems and some of the greens and sauté for two minutes, stirring often.

Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining butter, lemon zest and juice, a pinch of chili flakes, anchovies, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. I ended up squeezing a bit more lemon juice into the mixture. Blend this and when mixed, add the remaining chopped ramp greens, stir again. You can serve this on toast or over pasta, and I imagine it would taste great tucked under the skin of a chicken before roasting.

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