Frittata

An Easy Smashed Potato & Ramp Frittata for the Best Brunch Ever

The joy of spring vegetables.

May 25, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.

When I was growing up, my dad traveled a lot for work. He’d leave on a Monday and sometimes be gone for days. Once a year, his work would take him to the Pacific Northwest. I remember this because he would return from this trip each year with a special piece of cargo: fresh salmon on dry ice.

He’d re-tool his usual travel plan, checking his perfectly overhead bin-sized suitcase so that he could bring the salmon onto the plane as his carry-on. In Kansas, fresh, quality fish (at least fish from the sea) was a serious luxury. So when the salmon arrived home, it was treated like gold: My mom cooked it lovingly and carefully (seared and placed onto a ciabatta bun that had been mayo-ed and topped with lightly dressed arugula and a fat slice of peppered tomato). Dad went through all of this effort (and frankly, expense) for one meal’s worth of payoff, just so my mom and we kids could taste really good, fresh fish. This is one of the perks when you grow up in a house that takes food seriously.

This certainly explains why (many years later), I was standing with three TSA agents in the Newark airport discussing the contents of my carry-on. It was mid-May, I had a ticket for Kansas in my hand, and two parents waiting there who had never tasted ramps (which I’d been cooking up a storm with for the past several weeks). I had been on a mission to get them their first taste, so I had made two pounds of ramp compound butter and a couple jars of pickled ramps to take home with me. My happiness about winning Daughter of the Year was dashed as I realized—the moment I walked through the metal detectors—that the pickles were in brine (liquid!).

I had carefully put tiny bottles of lotion and shampoo into a zip-top bag as directed, but had somehow forgotten that there would be no way my two pints of vinegar and water would emerge through the scanner as easily. I turned red and fearful as the gloved agent removed the jars from my bag. They let me keep the compound butter, which was frozen. I pleaded with the TSA agent, who most certainly thought I was crazy as I described how expensive ramps are, and how short their season is, and how even if I couldn’t take them, he should really take the jars home and enjoy.

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Top Comment:
“Great recipe. Ramps were just too expensive for me to justify the expense ($8.99 a pound here). So I used some nice organic green onions and some fresh chopped garlic. So good. I would not have though about using the potatoes. And I loved smashed baked Yukon golds. Thanks.”
— judy
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“What do they taste like?” the TSA agent asked me.

It felt like an impossible question, because it was the same one I’d been trying to answer for my parents each year when I got so excited for ramp season. They’re technically wild leeks, but they have a sharp flavor too, a little like garlic. The leaves are softer in flavor than the bulbs—but they’re both so delicious.

Unconvinced, the TSA agent asked what he was supposed to do with the pickles. I was halfway through a description of a really lovely cheese plate scenario, when a supervisor strolled through and a single glance landed the jars in the trash.

I haven’t tried to take any ramp items home since, but I continue to cook feverishly with them when the season rolls around. Whether you’ve never tasted ramps, or are a fiend like me, this potato frittata recipe is a perfect display of their wonderfulness. It’s simple to make, and the blander ingredients (potatoes and egg) pick up the flavor of the ramps at every stage of cooking. The potatoes form a crisp crust on the bottom, but stay creamy inside, and the richness of the soft cheese inside plus the sharp cheese on top are the perfect complement.

When you eat something rare, or super-seasonal, each bite is such a gift. It feels just like the salmon that would fly halfway across the country to land on my plate once a year—precious and worth savoring.

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I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.

1 Comment

judy May 25, 2019
Great recipe. Ramps were just too expensive for me to justify the expense ($8.99 a pound here). So I used some nice organic green onions and some fresh chopped garlic. So good. I would not have though about using the potatoes. And I loved smashed baked Yukon golds. Thanks.