Yet another post involving pasta. I promise that there’ll be more than just pasta appearing on this here foodblog thingy sometime soon. The problem is that I never met a starch I didn’t like. 🙂
If you’ve been reading this foodblog for a while, you know that I’m a huge fan of ramps. Ramps (a/k/a wild leeks, or Allium tricoccum for the botanically inclined) are an early spring vegetable with an intense (some say overpowering) onion-like aroma and flavor.
A perennial member of the onion family (Alliaceae), the plant has broad, smooth, light green leaves, often with deep purple or burgundy tints on the lower stems, and a scallion-like stalk and bulb. Both the white lower leaf stalks and the broad green leaves are edible. The flower stalk appears after the leaves have died back, unlike the similar Allium ursinum, in which leaves and flowers can be seen at the same time.
Ramps can be found throughout the eastern United States and also in Canada. Availability is quite short, from late March through early to mid-May. Its season is over in the blink of an eye, so be sure to enjoy them while they last.
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2 bunches ramps, cleaned and trimmed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
a pinch of red pepper chile flakes
salt, to taste
1-2 tablespoons fried breadcrumbs (optional)
1/2 lb. squid ink tagliatelle (thin spaghetti is a good substitute)
chopped fresh oregano
freshly grated pecorino cheese
Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a roiling boil. Add tagliatelle and cook until pasta becomes al dente. If using dried pasta, cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving a couple of tablespoons pasta cooking water.
Slice ramps in half. Separate stalks from leaves. Chop stalks into 1/2″ pieces. Julienne the leaves. You should end up with approximately 1/2 cup ramp leaves and 1/4 cup ramp stalks.
Melt butter in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-low heat, Add garlic, ramp stalks and red pepper chile flakes. Sauté until garlic takes on a bit of color; do not burn. Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the pan, raise heat to medium and add ramp leaves. Sauté leaves until they partially wilt. Stir in fried breadcrumbs if using; taste for salt. Add cooked pasta directly to the skillet. Gently toss, ensuring that pasta is thoroughly coated with the sauce. If pasta seems too dry, sprinkle with a bit of pasta cooking water. Taste again for salt, then sprinkle with chopped fresh oregano and grated pecorino cheese. Serve immediately.
This recipe makes enough for 2 appetizer servings or 1 main dish entrée. Regular pasta can be substituted for the squid ink tagliatelle if you want to make it vegetarian.
Time: 30 minutes, including prep. Fried breadcrumbs can be made in advance.