Years ago I read an article about ramps in Gourmet Magazine. I was really curious, what the heck are they? Turns out they are foraged in spring and are also known as wild leeks. So this recipe is for those of you who live where Ramps grow wild, whereas I have to rely upon our good friend, chef Andrea who used her connections to get them from Eastern Canada for both of us. What do you do with a box of ramps, why you begin by making a batch of this pasta and as you twirl thing how very lucky we are to have such abundance growing wild!
Makes 4 Servings
½ lb. ramps
1 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated (Meyer lemons are good)
¼ cup EVO
1 lb. spaghetti
8 Tbsp. Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, I like to use a combination of both + more for passing
1/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. soft butter
1 lb. spaghetti
Toasted bread crumb topping, made ahead of time (see recipe below)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a large serving bowl in a 180 F oven to warm.
Trim the roots from the ramps and slip off outer skin on bulbs if loose. Blanch ramps in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 2 – 3 seconds; transfer to a colander with tongs. Coarsely chop the ramps, placing them in a food processor with the lemon zest, chili flakes and EVO.
Add 1 – 1 ½ Tbsp. salt to the boiling water. Add the spaghetti and cook for 4 minutes. Remove ½ cup of pasta water and add to the ramps in the food processor. Puree until smooth; remove to a small bowl; season with the salt.
Continue to cook spaghetti until al dente then remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the spaghetti in a colander. Return pasta to the pot, add the ramp puree, tossing over moderate heat 1 – 2 minutes, thinning sauce with a bit of pasta cooking water if pasta appears to be too dry. Remove pasta from heat; add 2 Tbsp. butter and the cheese; toss together and place in the large, warm serving bowl. Top with the toasted bread crumbs and serve immediately.
Toasted Bread Crumb Topping For Pasta
Preheat oven to 350 F.
3 ½” thick slices whole-grain bread
2 Tbsp. EVOO
Sea salt to taste
Cut bread into cubes, then grind to crumbs in a food processor. Spread in a shallow baking pan and bake in the middle of the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 – 15 minutes. Pour crumbs into a bowl and stir in the EVO and salt.
Helpful tip: Bread crumb topping can be used with other pastas as well.