Ramp Up Your Spring With WV’s Green Gem – Chef Ambassador Story

May 19, 2023

Written by Chef Ambassador, Matt Welsch

Springtime in the West Virginia mountains is something to behold. As we say in these parts, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes!” It is common to see all four seasons in the span of one day or even across a few hours. We learn to layer up in these parts, and to be ready for anything. After all, self-sufficiency is the Appalachian way.

No amount of weather roulette will calm a West Virginian’s enthusiasm for the spring and we know the season brings many boons to offset the trailings of winter – longer days, more sun, the landscape bursting from greys to brilliant greens – and most of all – ramps!

“Now, what in the name of all things wild and free are ramps!?”

Well, my friends, let me tell you. Ramps are a treasure to us here in the mountains. They are a type of wild onion with a bulb very reminiscent of a single small garlic bulb. These bulbs, though, have a root cluster on the bottom side and are attached by this beautiful reddish stem to a large broad leaf on the top.

In the old days, these pungent little babies might be the first fresh vegetable folks had seen in quite a long time. So, you can imagine how welcome a sight they would be and why they would often lead to community-wide events or “ramp feeds.”

Now, while the entire plant is edible, it’s important to treat different parts of the plant differently. Once you take the roots off with a sharp blade, ramps can be eaten fresh from the ground, but they can do so much more than that. I would have to say that ramp-fried potatoes are the most traditional dish, eaten with cornbread and soup beans, at least in my family. Or, you could straight up put the ramps in your cornbread. 

It’s just important to remember to treat the bulbs and stems more like garlic, and the leaves more like an herb. For instance, if your frying up some spuds put the bulbs in earlier and the greens towards the end. Make sense?

Ramps can run the culinary gamut. Personally, for dinners, and at my restaurant. I’ve done ramp dressing, ramp latkes, ramp carbonara, ramp pesto, maple and ramp glazed ribs, ramp dip, ramp butter and oil, pickled ramps, fried ramps and ramp chimichurri. I’ve heard of ramp candy, but haven’t tried it myself. And I’m looking forward to making some ramp fritters next.

I’m going to leave you with two things. One is that I’ve got a ton of ramp content on my YouTube channel if you want to check it out and learn more, and two, if you’re unfortunate and don’t have access to fresh West Virginia ramps, you can substitute them in dishes with different members of the allium family – meaning onions, garlic, leeks, chives, green onions and the like – it won’t be the same, but it will still be tasty. 

While you’re feasting on your rampy dishes – or your ramp-inspired ones – get out that old atlas and start planning your trip to see us in the Mountain State and get some authentic grub. We’d love to see you! 

Meet The Chef Ambassador

Matt Welsch

 Owner & Executive Chef of Vagabond Kitchen

Matt Welsch is an award-winning chef and restaurateur in Wheeling, West Virginia. He began his culinary journey in the dish pits of his college campus and has manned the lines in kitchens all over the country as he rode his motorcycle along blue highways to sample the culinary diversity of the United States.

Chef Matt has been featured on Guy’s Grocery Games, The Cast Iron Cookoff, West Virginia’s 40 Under 40, Taste WV Magazine, WV Living and Bon Appetit. He believes simply that everyone deserves to eat good food. Chef Matt currently serves up flavorful creations as the Owner and Executive Chef of Vagabond Kitchen.

The post Ramp Up Your Spring With WV’s Green Gem – Chef Ambassador Story appeared first on Almost Heaven – West Virginia.

This article: Ramp Up Your Spring With WV’s Green Gem – Chef Ambassador Story has been curated from our friends at Visit West Virginia and the original in it's entirety can be found here: https://wvtourism.com/ramp-up-your-spring-with-wvs-green-gem-chef-ambassador-story/