Updated: May 7
Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are one of our favorite things about early spring. Nothing beats walking through the woods on that first warm and sunny afternoon, searching for a shock of bright emerald green leaves that welcome the return of life. Ramps are one of the first plants to emerge in the springtime, and since they don't stick around for long, the time to enjoy them is now!
These potato and ramp pierogi are a great way to showcase the powerful garlicky goodness of a fresh spring ramp. We are lucky enough to have our own patch of ramps, and we are careful to only take a few handfuls a year. So, we usually use the entire plant, including both the bulb and leaves. However, you can also make this recipe using just the leaves, if you have a small patch or prefer to leave the bulb in the ground.
If you like your filling creamy, you can add some heavy cream, sour cream, or cream cheese to the filling. If you like a drier filling, just follow the recipe as is.
Wild Ramp Pierogi
Makes about 3.5 dozen
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup butter, softened
1.5 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
2 dozen ramps, bulbs and leaves (more if just using leaves)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
6 slices bacon, for frying and topping
Extra Parmesan for topping
Boil the potatoes: fill a medium saucepan with water, add the potatoes, and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 20 minutes, or until they are soft enough for mashing.
Make the dough: Stir together flour and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat water, half and half, and eggs together until well combined. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture, add the butter, and mix by hand or by machine until smooth and fully combined. If you are mixing by hand, you may need to turn the dough out onto a flat surface and knead for a minute or two, until the dough is smooth. Do not overwork, or they will be tough. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Fry the ramps: Fry the bacon until crisp, then place it on a paper towel to drain. Pour off most of the bacon fat into a heatproof container to save for later (I usually use a coffee mug!), reserving a few tablespoons in the pan for frying the ramps. Slice the ramps thinly, as you would green onions. Add to the hot pan and saute for about 5 minutes, until the white part is translucent and the green leaves are fully wilted. Remove from heat.
Make the filling: Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Mash with a potato ricer or masher. Add fried ramps, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
Assemble the pierogi: Cut the dough ball into four pieces. Roll one piece out on a well floured surface, until it is about the thickness of a quarter coin (about 1/16"). Use a 3 1/2" biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass to cut circles from the dough. Place 2 tsp of filling in the center of each circle. Wet the edge of the dough circle, then fold in half around the filling. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.
Cook the pierogi: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water is ready, heat the reserved bacon fat in a large skillet until it sizzles when a drop of water is added to it. Boil 6 pierogi for 2 to 3 minutes, until they start floating. Remove pierogi with a slotted spoon, then fry them in the bacon fat until crisp and brown on both sides. If the pierogi are too wet and the fat is popping a lot, you can let the pierogi sit for a few minutes to dry on a sheet of parchment or wax paper before frying.
Serve pierogi with crumbled bacon and extra shredded Parmesan.
To freeze: Pierogi freeze very well, and are easy to fry up for a quick lunch or dinner. After boiling, place the pierogi on a sheet of parchment or wax paper to cool, then freeze in a zip top bag. To cook frozen pierogi, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a skillet, then add the frozen pierogi. Fry until the filling is heated through and the pierogi are brown and crispy on both sides.
Watch a video of us making ramp pierogi on Instagram!