With Spring comes unpredictable weather–just as you begin to think we’re out of the frost, an Arctic wind blows through. I have a spectacular pasta recipe that will make it feel like this time of year should: garden parties, fresh flowers and the perfect combination of sun and cool breeze. Adapted from one of my favorite pasta recipes that typically calls for garlic and arugula to give flavor, I instead feature my favorite spring vegetable, ramps. These Alliums (Allium Tricoccum) magically contain the flavors of both their cousins, garlic and onion, in a fresh and delicate way. Even while chopping them the scent perfumes the air in such a way that you might not be able to wait the quick 20 minutes it takes to make this fresh spring dish.
Ramps or wild leeks, are most abundant during early spring, and are considered in some parts of the world a rare delicacy. Not to mention the lovely little hint of burgundy that makes them even more unique. Luckily when they are in season, New York City ramps up their inventory (pun intended), and they can be found at Union Square Greenmarket, purveyors: Sweet Mountain Berry, or Whole Foods. But get them while their piled high because the season won’t last long, and once you taste these garlicky leeks you won’t be able to get enough!
The ramps, accompanied by the tartness of the lemon juice, the creamy saltiness of the ricotta salata cheese, and the nuttiness of the whole wheat pasta make for a complete and fulfilling meal. The other secret weapon in this pasta? An addition of lemon zest. Sounds a bit weird for warm pasta right? However, it is just what it needs. It’s the pop component; making the dish taste light and playful. Just like Spring should.
For more recipes from Ashley Beck:
Calories per serving: 360 per serving
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins
2 tbp olive oil, separated
½ lemon , juiced and zested
2 cups ramps, bulbs and leaves separated, roughly chopped
1 tsp chili flakes
6 oz whole wheat pasta
1 cup ricotta salata, grated
Salt , to taste
Black pepper , freshly ground
1. Bring a pot of water to boil, salt well, then add whole wheat pasta and cook 8-10 minutes or until al dente.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbp. of oil in a medium sauté pan and then add bulbs of ramps, lemon zest, salt and pepper and chili flakes and let cook until ramp bulbs are softened, about 3-4 minutes. Then remove from heat, until pasta is done.
3. When pasta is ready, drain, and then add to the sauté pan and toss with sautéed ramp bulbs. Put pan back onto medium heat and add ramp leaves, remaining olive oil, and ½ cup of ricotta salata and toss until well incorporated and leaves are wilted. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, and toss again.
4. Plate and then top with freshly cracked pepper and remaining ricotta salata. Best served warm or at room temperature.