Years ago I read an article about ramps in Gourmet Magazine. I was really curious, what the heck are they? Turns out they are hunted & gathered in the spring and are also known as wild leeks. A good friend, who is a chef, used her connections & got us some. Still don’t know the secret places they are found though! What do you do with a box of ramps, why you begin by making a batch of this pasta and slurp up spring!
½ lb. ramps
1 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated (Meyer lemon works great)
¼ cup EVOO
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
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 & 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 & put in a food processor with the lemon zest, chili flakes & 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 & 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 & toss 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 & the cheese; toss together and place in a 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 & bake in the middle of the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 – 15 minutes. Pour crumbs into a bowl & stir in the EVO & salt.
Bread crumb topping can be used with other pastas as well.