Ramps fans rejoice: Harvest time is here for the region’s beloved early-spring vegetables, which are found growing wild in forests and cultivated on forestland. Their harvest is short—only two to three weeks. But, that won’t stop area Appalachian Grown™ partner restaurants from reveling in ramps this month. In fact, the Get Local celebration, like the veggies of honor, will be bold: Ramps’ flavor can be described as a mix of onion and garlic.
Ramps at Restaurants Rundown
The following Appalachian Grown partner eateries are turning their menus into love letters to the springtime delicacy:
- “We’ll feature ramps as much as possible in the coming weeks,” says Jen Pearson of Guadalupe Cafe in Sylva. “They’ll be on our brunch menu, in nighttime specials, and—if they last until strawberries arrive—in a grilled ramps, fresh strawberry, and gorgonzola dish we like to do.”
- Nate Allen, chef/co-owner of Knife & Fork in Spruce Pine, takes the same approach as Jen. “We do everything we possibly can with ramps: We make a pesto, we tempura batter and deep fry them, create flatbreads, sauté them with morels and serve over cheesy grits, you name it.”
- Kaighn Raymond, executive chef/owner of Frogs Leap Public House in Waynesville, has been busy creating at least four new ramps dishes for the season, including skillet blackened Sunburst Trout with a spring succotash and grilled ramp broth, spring potato and ramp vichyssoise with local baby arugula, potato-ramp pancakes with a ramp crème fraîche, and a local morel and ramp pesto flatbread.
- Chestnut in Asheville plans to pickle the piquant produce for use in their bar items, then grill local ramps for use throughout their kitchen dishes.
- Elizabeth Button of Asheville’s Cúrate shares that ramps are very similar to calçots, an early-spring Spanish scallion. Cúrate plans to serve up the Southern staple Spanish-style with a Romesco sauce.
- Season’s at Highland Lake Inn in Flat Rock is also going the route of a special sauce; they’re blending local ramps into a béarnaise to serve with grilled asparagus as a side dish (pictured here; photo courtesy of Season’s). They’re also making ramp butter to garnish their Sunburst Trout dinner dishes. How? “We clean the ramps well; toss them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper; grill them lightly, purée with a little cream, and finish with softened butter in a mixer with a paddle attachment,” shares Sous Chef Matt Lineback.
- At Beechwood Inn in Clayton, GA, they “have a number of friends that forage wild foods using sustainable practices.” Expect items like a wild ramp pesto and wild ramp and goat cheese gallete (recipe below!).
Know of a restaurant ramping it up that’s not listed here? Share as a comment below!
A Ramptastic Recipe
Of course, ramps can also be found at farmers tailgate markets and roadside stands now. For a list of Appalachian Grown farms offering ramps, visit our online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org. There, also find a list of markets and farm stores.