Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ramp Hors D’oeuvres

Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum)Image via Wikipedia
Ramps grow wild in the woods of West Virginia and area welcomed delicacy every spring. Old timers used the plant as a spring tonic to beat the winter blues. Ramps are also known as wild leeks, they belong to the lily family and are close relatives to the onion and garlic. The leaves are 2 inch wide and 8 inches long at maturity. The leaves disappear when the deciduous trees make their canopy. The bulbs remain in the soil. In the summer the ramp will flower with three sepals and three petals and produce seeds. Once the ramp has bloomed, it goes dormant and revives when spring comes. If you like to grow ramps it’s best to get them in the springtime. Plant the bulb 2 inches deep. Ramps thrive in moist, shady hillsides. It takes about 5 to 10 years to get a good harvest. West Virginia is known to have ramp festivals. The one in Richwood is very popular. The city’s local volunteers serve thousands of pounds of old-time Appalachian ramps.

Try this ramp recipe with bite-size pieces of French= bread or crusty bread:
1 8-oz. package cream cheese
2 cups sour cream
20 ramps
½ tsp. salt

Blanch 15 ramps including tops. Cool and then chop finely. Whip sour cream and softened cream cheese together. Add cayenne pepper and salt. Add chopped ramps.

Finely chop remaining raw ramps and add to mixture. Serve with bite-size pieces of crusty chewy bread or French bread.

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