Appalachian Spring Vegetables: Ramps

Spring is one the best seasons of the year to really flex your culinary muscles! Once the winter season unpacks itself, the spring season ushers in a bountiful array of edible vegetation. Not only is there a vast assortment of spring vegetables at our disposal, but it also offers a new fresh beginning. Spring vegetables, legumes, and leafy greens utilize the old foliage to create a springboard for their own growth process. Ramps begin to peek out from the winter undergrowth to offer their deliciously pungent flavor. The onion variety is itself in the lily family, which is derived from the flower and its meaning is that of “rebirth” or even “passion”. Morel mushrooms can be found in high elevations forming symbiotic relationships with local hardwood trees such as Poplar and Oak. Light and healthy leafy greens like spinach, arugula, and pea shoots are ready for harvest as well.
Here in Appalachia, we are fortunate to experience these good eats in geographical proximity. Many native West Virginians, including myself, forage for these seasonal wonders in the nearby mountains. Morels and wild mushrooms can even be found right in the backyard of The Summit restaurant! Local farmer’s markets also showcase these native, spring delights making them accessible to locals as well as food enthusiasts.
We all have our own relationships with food as well as the way we eat it. Spring vegetables offer such versatility across many different applications from pickling, to fresh accompaniments for a simple salad. The recipe that will follow uses wild ramps in the form of a popular sauce called pesto. This sauce can be used for pastas, in salad dressings, or even as a spread on a toasted baguette.  If you cannot find ramps, then substitute them for scallions. We hope you enjoy this sauce as it is the perfect marriage between Genovese Italian tradition and Appalachian influence.
by Stephen Anderson, Summit Chef De Cuisine


Ramps Recipe from the GSC Kitchen