Pickled or blanched, roasted or raw—West Virginians’ love for ramps runs rampant. Come springtime, foragers take to the woods, shoppers head to farmers markets, and chefs sharpen their knives. It’s quite the craze, all for a humble little onion. But not without good reason.

More oniony than a leek, more garlicky than a scallion, ramps are surprisingly versatile. They pack a punch when blended into butter or add a savory kick when mixed into muffins. Don’t take our word for it though. Try your hand at some of our favorite ways to dine on this Appalachian delicacy.

Ramp Chowder

2 tablespoons bacon fat or butter
½ cup ramp bulbs, roughly chopped
½ cup ramp greens, roughly chopped
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt, to taste
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
Crumbled bacon, for garnish
Shredded cheese, for garnish
Ramp greens, for garnish

  1. In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, saute
    ramps over medium heat in bacon fat or butter until
  2. Add potatoes, broth, salt, and pepper. Cover and
    simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Add heavy cream and shredded cheddar cheese. Stir
    to combine. Cook over low heat until the flavors
  4. Let the chowder stand for 30 minutes to an hour so
    it thickens. For an even creamier soup, blend 1 or 2
    cups of cooled soup in a blender until smooth and
    add it back to the pot.
  5. Before serving, gently reheat chowder. Garnish
    bowls with bacon, shredded cheese, and ramp
    yield: 4 servings

Ramp Butter

4 ounces ramps, cleaned and rinsed
2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Fill a bowl halfway
    with ice water. Toss ramps into the boiling water
    and cook for 30 seconds to blanch. Using a slotted
    spoon, quickly remove ramps from boiling water
    and dunk into ice water to halt their cooking.
    Drain ramps and pat dry.
  2. Pulse ramps, butter, lemon zest, and salt in food
    processor until well combined, about 30 seconds.
  3. Divide butter mixture in half and wrap each half
    in a sheet of plastic wrap. Roll and shape each into
    a log. Twist ends of plastic to close.
  4. Place logs in resealable plastic bags and freeze.
    Slice off rounds of butter as needed.

Sauteed Ramps with White Beans on Toast

4 ounces ramps, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup cooked white beans
¼ cup parsley, chopped
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
4 slices toast

  1. Heat olive oil in large pan over low heat.
    Add ramps and sweat them for 5 minutes.
  2. Over medium-high heat, add lemon
    juice. Stir and scrape brown bits from
    the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add white beans and cook for 2 minutes,
    or until heated through. Add parsley and
    season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve warmed beans on toast of your
    choice. Drizzle with olive oil to taste.
    Leftover beans can also be served over
    risotto or grits.
    yield: 4 servings

Grilled Asparagus with Ramp Dressing

ramp dressing
1 bunch ramps, coarsely chopped
½ lemon, juice and zest
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
grilled asparagus
1 bunch green asparagus
Olive oil, for brushing
2 burrata or mozzarella cheese balls, patted dry

  1. Puree ramps and olive oil in blender until fully combined—
    the oil should look green. Season with lemon juice and zest,
    salt, and pepper.
  2. Trim asparagus and brush with olive oil. Roast asparagus over
    grill or griddle pan until tender, about 2 minutes per side.
  3. Remove asparagus from heat and cut into bite-sized
    slices. Arrange asparagus on a plate. Top with burrata or
    mozzarella cheese, and drizzle with the ramp dressing.
    yield: 4 servings

Creamed Ramps

¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
4 ounces ramps
4 ounces baby spinach, chopped
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

  1. Melt butter in pot over medium heat. Add flour and cook,
    stirring for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk until
    mixed well.
  2. Add cream, ramps, baby spinach, and parmesan cheese.
    Stir to combine. Cook briefly until ramps are soft. Serve
    as is or spoon over toast.

food styled and photographed by Carla Witt Ford

posted on April 21, 2020

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Jess Walker
Written by Jess Walker
Jess Walker came to West Virginia to pursue her master’s degree in English, but stayed for the culture, nature, and stories. She writes for WV Living and Morgantown magazines. Her best ideas happen when she’s outdoors, preferably near a river and with a cup of coffee in hand.