Back on May 5, 2008, Kevin blogged about the delicious springtime phenomenon of ramps. May 5 was a special day for me… first day in a new apartment and in a new job. Now that ramps are back in season, and because a friend of mine fortuitously brought me three pounds she found growing wild (or, rather, rampant) in southeast Ohio this past week, I decided I’d honor Kevin’s contribution with a second one of my own
Ramps can be intimidating. They are related to both onions and garlic, and smell like both at once. And unlike onions and garlic, ramps typically come to you with lots of torn membranes (you have to rip them out of the ground), which makes them incredibly pungent. You wonder, ‘what am I going to smell like after I eat these?’
The answer – you’ll smell strongly of ramps, basically. But it’s worth it.
As Kevin pointed out last year, almost every single online recipe involving ramps includes either bacon or bacon fat. But while that may be good for Claire in her frantic push to use all her stored bacon fat, it’s not so hot for poor vegan me. Luckily there is a quick, easy pasta dish that is incredibly delicious and involves no animal products. Here it is.
First, your ramps will have roots and lots of mud and dirt attached (as shown). Wash and cut all that crap off, and beneath the mud you’ll see there are bulbs at the end of each stalk, like little heads of garlic. It’s early in the season, so mine were all pretty small. If they’re big, you should separate them and cook them for a longer time, otherwise you’ll get almost-raw ramp bulbs in your pasta, and that’s probably more than you (or your guests) were bargaining for.
The rest is totally simple. Before you begin, put up a pot of water for your favorite pasta. While you wait for the boil, chop your ramp stalks in two crosswise, or more if you want. Drop them in a saucepan with some olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes. Add about 1/4-1/3 cup of water so they don’t burn. It should take about five minutes for them to cook down. At that point they should be bright green and extremely tender.
Drain your pasta about 30 seconds before you otherwise would, and dump the ramps in. Mix well; the excess water and oil should lubricate the pasta. Put the pot back on the burner for the final thirty seconds to make sure it’s not too watery, and serve immediately! I forgot to do this, but freshly-ground black pepper (or any old black pepper) would probably make this even greater.
You’re now ready to go on a rampage.
One final thought – I made a pound of pasta, and used about a pound of raw ramps. That ratio seemed to work pretty well. Visually it looked pasta-heavy, but you really don’t want to make this dish too strong.