Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Recipe: Ramps

There's always a bit of a buzz here in New York during ramp season. In case you're not familiar with them, ramps are wild spring leeks that are in season for about a month at the beginning of spring. For most of us, having ramps arrive at the local farmer's market signifies that spring has really sprung, and it seems every restaurant you go to has a special on the menu involving ramps. Ben introduced me to them when we first moved here to New York and we've used them in pastas, on pizzas, in risottos, frittatas, and of course, just on their own as a delicious vegetable side. This dish is one of my favorites because it's easy and involves very few ingredients, which really lets you enjoy these fleeting veggies to their fullest. 

Linguine with Ramps

1 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt 
1 pound dry linguine
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces fresh ramps, white root ends and green leafy tops separated
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup breadcrumbs, toasted
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving

*Cleaning your ramps: trim the tip of the root end and starting at the beginning of the green part, pull the outer layer down toward the bulb end, revealing the clean, white bulb. Rinse very well and store in the refrigerator wrapped in paper towel inside a ziploc bag.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. Add your linguine and cook according to the directions on the package or until al dente. Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, and add 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Add the root ends of the ramps and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the leafy green tops, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tablespoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until well wilted. Add to the pan your drained pasta and 1/4 cup or so of the pasta water, and toss until well coated. Off the heat, add the parmesan. Top each serving with a little more freshly grated parmesan and a sprinkling of the toasted breadcrumbs. 

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