Ramps fans rejoice: Harvest time is ramping up for the North Carolina mountain’s beloved early-spring vegetables, which are found growing wild in forests and cultivated on forest land. According to ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project), their harvest is short—only two to three weeks. But, that won’t stop area Appalachian Grown™ partner restaurants in the Asheville area from reveling in ramps this month. Ramps’ flavor can be described as a mix of onion and garlic. How better to enjoy local food of the mountains?
“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, takes the same approach. “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.
From pesto to pickles: Chestnut in downtown Asheville plans to pickle the piquant delicacy 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.
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. 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.
Enjoy! See our list of Favorite Asheville restaurants.
Thanks to ASAP for the delicious looking photo!