Ramping up Spring with some super delicious and super simple ramp pasta. Yes, a play on words, my friends, because I’m a little over-enthusiastic about the arrival of our dear friend, Spring, SPRING. Spring-a-ding-a-ling-ling. I’m so freaking excited for spring that I’m surprised I haven’t tried eating the grass just to get in on some freshly-grown action. And what says spring better than ramps?
It’s been freakishly cold here, so even though I’ve tried convincing the garden to grow something I can cook up right this second, all I’ve gotten are a few asparagus spears, green garlic, and 3 spinach leaves. She’s playing coy until we have some more favorable weather. I try coaxing her, but nothing seems to work. Farmer Kenny keeps asking me why I already planted anything, but I hardly have a good answer for him. All of the experienced ol’ farmers and growers know you wait until May 1 to plant around here, but I can’t help myself. He’s right of course, considering it snowed yesterday: SNOWED. Midwest Springs are known for their wild temperature fluctuations, but despite living here my whole life, this somehow surprises me every year.
Luckily, the forest is not nearly as apprehensive as my bashful, hesitant garden and is as ready as I am to get this party started. Started on a Saturday night. With ramps. RAMPS. Rampity-ramp-ramp . . . Spring is on it’s way! Weeeeeee. OK, I’ll stop singing now. And YELLING all caps like.
Seriously though, the forest ain’t afraid of nothing. She sent up ramps by the droves and I’m thoroughly enjoying experimenting with them whilst I wait for all the other goodies Spring has to offer. Ramps are curious fellows. They only grow wild, so you have find them or get them from someone who foraged them. In our area, you can find them at the farmers’ markets and local co-ops as well. If you’re foraging them yourself and lucky enough to find some (and I hope you are), do your best to harvest them sustainably. Pretty please, with a cherry on top. To do this, cut the bulb above the roots, leaving the roots behind in the soil. Now, admittedly, this isn’t the easiest task and I’ve been known to pull er’ up, roots and all, but I try not to, OK?!
So, let’s talk about this simple ramp pasta here, eh? I wanted something very simple to highlight the ramps. A silky-smooth buttered noodle with a kiss of oniony-garlic (totally an official term, ahem). Even if you don’t think you like greens in your pasta, you do. You really do. Ramp leaves have a touch of sweetness to them, and I’d hate for you to leave them out. I decided to include pancetta last minute, because I forgot to put it in our Chicken Marsala a few nights earlier (derp), but you can omit it for a vegetarian spin. I guess you could leave out the butter and Parmesan for a vegan spin. And leave out the pasta for a gluten-free spin. Which of course would just be sauteed ramps, but hey, you do you!
Simple Ramp Pasta
- 12 ounces thin spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 ounces pancetta chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 12 –15 ramps greens and bulbs separated, bulbs sliced thinly and greens chopped into thin strips (1–2 inches)
- Shaved Parmesan for topping
- Lemon wedges for garnish
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium. Add pancetta, stirring occasionally, until desired crispiness. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add butter to now-empty pan. Add ramp bulbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Once pasta is almost done, add ramp greens to bulbs and toss to coat.
- Add pasta to skillet along with ½ cup cooking liquid. Cook, tossing often and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until a thick, glossy sauce coats pasta.
- Add pancetta back to pain. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with shaved Parmesan and lemon wedges for topping.