You really know it’s spring in New York when you see the foodies elbowing one another at the farmer’s markets to grab up bunches of that elusive and highly seasonal harbinger of spring – ramps.
Ramps are a member of the allium family (onion, garlic, etc.) and are also known as wild leeks. How are they different from regular leeks? They’re awesome. That’s how.
Tasting like a mix between garlic and onion, ramps are great in a number of dishes, many of which involve bacon fat. It’s tough to find ramp recipes in cookbooks as they only grow on the east coast and as they’re so infrequently available, but a quick google search will put you on the right track. But I find it hard to believe you can find anything better than the spaghetti with ramp pesto that I made last weekend. But get to the market soon. These guys won’t be around much longer. And I’ll be there, ready to elbow you for that last bunch.
Spaghetti with Ramp Pesto
1/2 lb ramps (a little more than one bunch as I’ve seen them packaged)
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb spaghetti
1. Trim roots from ramps and slip off outer skin on bulbs, if loose. Blanch ramps in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, 5 to 10 seconds, lift out of boiling water and transfer to cutting board. Coarsely chop ramps and put in a blender with zest and oil.
2. Add spaghetti to boiling water and cook a few minutes, then ladle out 1/2 cup pasta water and add to blender. Puree ramps until smooth and season with salt. Continue to cook spaghetti until al dente, then ladle out about 1 cup additional pasta water before draining spaghetti in a colander. Return pasta to pot with ramp puree and toss with parmesan over moderate heat for several minutes, thinning sauce with a little pasta water as needed to coat pasta.
3. Stuff face.
Props to http://www.seasonalchef.com/ for the basis of this recipe.