Like many things that hipsters claim, ramps were once considered a weedy nuisance, but are now a sign of “in-the-know” foodie status and often sell out at farmers’ markets before noon. Ah, irony. If you spot some of this delicate green onion-esque spring vegetable, snag a bunch, because they’re in season now. They’re also wildly flavorful and delicious, and pair perfectly with a tangle of buttery, lemony spaghetti.
Ramps are a type of wild onion, and boast a garlicky smell and an onion-y taste. They go by other names: spring onions, wild leeks, wood leeks, and wild garlic. (Fun fact: apparently the city of Chicago was named after a large patch of ramps growing by Lake Michigan.) Ramps look similar to green onions, and both the leaves and the stems are edible.
Their strong garlic-onion flavor makes them a natural candidate for pasta dishes, and when paired with olive oil and a healthy sprinkling of Parmesan, ramps become a quick, easy, flavorful way to take advantage of the farmers’ market abundance (if you get to them before the hordes of hipsters, that is).
Garlicky-Spicy Ramp Pasta
1 pound ramps
1 pound pasta (spaghetti or linguini)
1 small shallot
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
Clean the ramps. Cut off the green leaves, roll them up lengthwise, and slice into ribbons. Set aside. Cut the white ramp bottoms into thin slices. Mince the shallot and garlic.
Cook your pasta, and when it’s about 3 minutes from being done, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Sauté all the members of the Allium genus: white ramp ends, garlic, and shallots. Throw in the red pepper flakes. After about 2 minutes–when the white ramp ends are tender–toss in the ramp greens and stir for one minute, then take off the heat.
Drain the pasta and toss with the ramp-olive oil mixture. Top with breadcrumbs, a squeeze of lemon juice, grated Parmesan, and salt/pepper to taste. Pair with a springy salad and a glass of white wine.
photo attribute: Andrea Kratzenberg