Grilled food is summer. There’s nothing like absolutely anything on the grill. I even have a cast iron grill pan. And while I love cooking with it, it’s still not the same as a real grill. And for grilling, marinades are where it’s at! They help tenderize the meat, and lock in the flavor and juices while it’s cooking. Not to mention they add a lot of their own flavor! Commercially produced marinades typically are loaded with salt and sugar, so I try not to use them so much. I’ve been playing around with my own marinades from scratch. They do take more time than opening a bottle, but not much more. Usually a little salt is needed, but I don’t use sugar. Not necessary even a little bit, in my opinion! This marinade was so delicious!
If you’re not familiar with ramps, they are a sure sign of spring here in the Eastern part of the country. They are also called wild leeks, although they taste more like garlic. Here’s what they look like:
Ramps are in the genus Allium, along with onions, garlic, and leeks, and have a similar nutrient profile. This group is most known for its cancer-fighting properties, due to its varied antioxidant composition, including vitamin C and quercetin. The entire plant is edible, and delicious. Ramps lend themselves well to pesto, because of the bright green color of the leaves, and pronounced garlicky taste. I’ve also seen many recipes for ramp pizzas and pastas.
In this recipe, the strong garlicky flavor is toned down a bit by slowly grilling the chicken over medium heat. The lemon undertones provide a little tang to balance out the ramps, and help tenderize the chicken. The reduced sodium soy sauce finishes out the marinade perfectly, with just enough salt to enhance the flavors without being overwhelming. I’ll bet this would be fabulous on fish or other seafood as well!
RAMP MARINATE GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST
1/3 lbs Ramps, tops and bottoms separated
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
4 Boneless, skinless Chicken breasts, about 4 oz each
1. Place tops of ramps (green part), olive oil, soy sauce and lemon juice in a food processor, and process until smooth.
2. Put chicken breasts in a zipper bag, and pour in marinade. Squish (that’s a very technical cooking term) the bag around until all the chicken is covered with the marinade. Lay flat in the refrigerator, and allow to marinate at least 2 hours.
3. Preheat grill, and grill chicken on medium heat, about 10-15 minutes on each side. Discard remaining marinade. Never baste meat with marinade it has been in – this can contaminate cooked meat with bacteria from raw meat!
4. During the last 10 minutes of grilling, place ends of ramps on foil on the 2nd shelf of the grill. Lightly grill and use as garnish.
Serve with a side salad and rice.
Have you ever had ramps before? How did you prepare them? Let me know in the comments!
Happy, healthy eating!