These Wild, Wonderful Leeks are all the Ramp-age

Posted by  | March 23, 2012  at 12:05 PM  


Allium Tricoccum, wild leeks, or as the rest of us call them, Ramps--this pungent little plant is a true (and tasty) indicator that Spring has most definitely sprung.

Found creekside in wooded areas throughout West Virginia, I consider these lovely little wild leeks one of the state's tastiest treasures (rivaled only by morel mushrooms). Besides, you can't get more local than going out in the woods and digging up dinner, right?
                 
Traditionally, ramps are fried in bacon grease, paired with trout, and served alongside fried potatoes (and delicious in that, this is going to kill me, kinda way). However, as their popularity has spread to urban farmer's markets and even Mario Batali's Babbo in NYC, the way in which ramps are prepared has also expanded to include soups, sauces, soufflés, and more.
                  
If you're looking for that ramp flavor, but you're not the DIY (Dig It Yourself) type, The Vintage Lady in Harpers Ferry offers a West Virginia-made ramp mustard, that comes complete with a recipe book to help enhance that unique ramp flavor.
   
If you'd rather enjoy your ramps served up snazzy, here are some local restaurants where you'll find ramps showcased in their Spring specials.

Dish
213 West Washington Street
Charles Town, WV
304.728.3464 

The Press Room
129 West German Street
Shepherdstown, WV
304.876.877

The Bavarian Inn
164 Shepherd Grade Road
Shepherdstown, WV
304.876.2551

Lot 12 Public House
117 Warren Street
Berkeley Springs, WV
304.258.6264

And in case you ever doubted my authenticity as a true West Virginian, here are some pics of me on a ramp-digging excursion with my family circa 1984. My mother also informed me that this outing involved several outfit changes and at least 3 pairs of shoes--I guess some things never change :)


Keep reading for my recipe for ramp pesto. This pesto works well with both fresh and frozen ramps, so it's a great way to enjoy them year-round!



Richele's Ramp Pesto
 
3 Cups - Ramps (cleaned and blanched)
           
1/3 Cup - Soy Nuts
         
2/3 Cup - Asiago Cheese
         
2/3 -1 Cup - Olive Oil
   
- Pulverize ramps, soy nuts, and cheese with an immersion blender or in a food processor or normal blender.

-Drizzle in olive oil while blending.

- Add salt and pepper to taste.

to make the rest of the dish....

-Halve a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes and sautee 'til slightly soft.

- Prepare pasta as directed.

- Combine pasta, pesto and tomatoes, and toss 'til pasta is thoroughly coated in pesto.

- Top with remaining shredded cheese.

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