By Sherrie Norris
The very strong member of the onion family known as the ramp, or more commonly known collectively as ramps, is among the first green vegetable to appear in the wild in the early mountain springtime.
Ramps are still the subject of a number of mountain festivals held in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee, but I’ll always remember the one held for many years in my hometown of Crossnore at Jim and Jenny’s Music Barn. People came from miles around about this time each year to take part in the fun and festivities surrounding the mountain delicacy.
Ramps have been known to leave a powerful odor on the breath, so don’t get too close to anyone after you eat “a mess.”
Recipes are few and far between for ramps, but many years ago, I ran across two that I’ve shared before and know they are tried and true. I think the potatoes help decrease the strong taste of the ramps, but I cannot vouch for it. I’ve never tried ramps, but I have been around those who have. Whew! It’s not something you will soon forget.
Fried Potatoes and Ramps
5 medium potatoes, diced
5 medium bunches of ramps, diced into 1-inch pieces
Butter or your preference of cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a skillet, fry potatoes in butter or oil on medium heat for about ten minutes, then add the ramps and cook until tender, about 20 minutes longer, or until tender. Season as desired.
Eggs and Ramps Breakfast Casserole
1 lb. breakfast sausage
1½ – 2 cups thinly sliced cleaned fresh ramps
2 cups milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
4 slices bread
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Grease baking dish and set aside. Heat oven to 350.
Cook sausage in large pan over medium heat until brown; break up the sausage and drain most of the grease, leaving just a little in the pan. Add sliced ramps to the pan, cooking gently until they soften. Set aside.
In large bowl, combine eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper, stirring to blend.
Tear bread into pieces and spread in bottom of the baking dish. Top with the sausage and layer with cheese.
Slowly pour the egg, milk, and ramps mixture evenly over the bread, sausage and cheese. Pat down gently and let stand for about 10 minutes. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean.