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The Education of Taste

Linguine primavera

As a general rule, I don’t like cream sauces because I feel they mask flavor. I want to be able to taste what I’m eating. Don’t get me wrong — cream sauces have a place in my repertoire. It’s just that when I cook, I prefer to be as minimalist as possible so that I can experience the most of what my ingredients have to offer.

4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch ramps, cleaned, trimmed and chopped (separate stalks and leaves)
2 t. grated lemon zest
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 T. fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup fresh peas, shelled
1 lb. linguine
3 T. pine nuts, toasted
2 T. Italian parsley, chopped
2 T. onion chives, minced
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta. Drain, reserving a ladleful of pasta cooking water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 T. olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add ramp stalks, lemon zest, tarragon and a pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring occasionally.

Prepare asparagus and peas in a separate pot — bring water to a roiling boil, add a pinch of salt and the vegetables; cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat; drain. Add to ramps mixture and continue cooking. Add ramp leaves and cook for an additional minute. Stir.

Add cooked linguine to pan along with 1 or 2 tablespoons pasta cooking water. Raise heat and add the remaining olive oil, the pine nuts, parsley and chives. Check seasoning. Stir in a scant handful of grated cheese. Serve immediately, passing additional cheese at the table.

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