spring onion, garlic leeks, ramson, wild leek, or ail des bois.
A wild onion with the scientific name Allium tricoccum, they have broad pale green leaves that look similar to a tulip, with a magenta stem that fades into a white bulb at the bottom. They are found growing wild in groves near water all over the eastern United States and Canada and first appear in spring.
What's it taste like?
It has a flavour similar to garlic chives, but with a texture more like a tender scallion. Raw, they are intensely garlicky, but cooking them mellows the garlic notes and brings out sweet onion flavours.
Where do I get it?
Because they have a very short shelf life (2-3 days from picking), they aren't typically distributed in major grocery stores, and when they do show up, they are often wilted and expensive. If you live on the east coast of the US, your best bet is to look in farmers markets starting in mid April.
When is it best?
They are best when picked early in the season which starts in April. During the summer months the leaves are too mature to eat, but the bulbs grow bigger and can be harvested for consumption.
How do I use it?
They can be blanched, grilled, pickled, sauteed or even eaten raw. They tend to taste best when cooked for a short time in a very simple preparation. Sauteing or grilling with olive oil, salt and pepper is a wonderful way to enjoy these springtime treats.