Friday, 22 February 2013

Ramp Pasta

Emma Alter Photo
Last week at the farmers' market, I found two harbingers of spring cooking: ramps and fiddleheads. Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are one of those vegetables like Jerusalem artichokes that used to be considered an invasive weed and is now a sought after commodity. They are among the first fresh vegetables to come to the market after the long winter and they don't last long, so you have to catch them when you can.
Ramps aren't cheap, but on the other hand, if you need a little spring tonic, $6 isn't so much to pay for a treat. And other than cutting off the root, you use the entire plant, so there is no waste there. Ramps have a more delicate taste than leeks or green onions, with a bit of grassiness. I wouldn't use them as a background as you would with onions, but make them a major ingredient so that you can capture their full flavour.
I made a simple pasta dish and served it with a green salad and it was delightful. The dish I made was vegetarian, but if you wanted to add another layer of flavour you could add some pancetta to your pan first and then cook the ramps in the rendered fat. This is another "throw-together" recipe, so the amounts are approximate. As always, feel free to experiment.
1 tbspolive oil
1/2 lbramps, root removed, washed and coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese
a bit of reserved water from cooking the pasta
cooked pasta for 2
  1. Heat oil in pan and add the bulb portion of the ramps. Saute until almost tender. My ramps were very thin and they took about 5 minutes. Add the green portion to the pan and saute until just wilted.
  2. Add a bit of reserved water from cooking the pasta, just enough to make a light sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve over pasta and add Parmesan cheese.


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