Apparently, I’ve just crossed a big one off of my “foodie bucket list.” Ramps. From those who gingerly walk into the food world one toe at a time, or those who cannonball right into the pool, ramps are key. They are a spring bounty, a triumph, and often rated with morels as the “to use/to find/to hunt ingredient.”
Even more apparently, they grow right where I live. In droves. I’ve eaten them before, but never hunted them or cooked them. Until this week, of course.
Ok, I didn’t hunt them. But our fabulous friends did. And they gave me TONS! Along with 2 really killer homemade ramp pestos–one with walnut, one with pine nuts. And several warnings on the meditative (translation: lengthy) cleaning process of said product. I set about this task on Tuesday, contemplating for 30 hours prior just what I wanted to do with my first ramp trick. I admit, I was a bit intimidated, only because chefs like Alex Guarnaschelli tweet about them with excited glee. In a slightly cheating manner, I decided to both use the ramps AND the aforementioned pesto, so as to make my dish even more ramptastic–and to insure at least one part would be insanely good (the pesto.)
But here’s the deal–the dish was amazing. The ramps, when I bit the leafy top raw, had a pungent garlic flavor. But when sauteed in a bit of olive oil and renderings from a ridiculously amazing prosciutto from Iowa, they mellow out and get a lovely balanced flavor. I tossed the crispy prosciutto with the whole-grain, flax-seed rotini, and heated the walnut-ramp pesto with it. Using some pasta cooking water to thin out the pesto, and tossing it all together with the sauteed ramps…well, it was awesomely fantastic.
Today, I clean more ramps, and am going to attempt my own pesto, as well as using the raw greens in a salad. And feel insanely foodie-cool.
Go on, go to the farmer’s market (those of you lucky enough to live in cities) and pick some up. Or, for those of you country-folk like moi, go outside and hunt. You never know what you’ll find!
Basic Pasta…Ramped UP!
1 lb whole grain short cut pasta
1/4 lb thinly sliced prosciutto, sliced in strips
1 lb ramps, cleaned, tops cut from stem, sliced in half
1 small jar pesto (if it’s ramp pesto, even better!)
Parmesan Cheese (or some other hard grating cheese)
salt and pepper
While pasta boils, in a large skillet, heat 1 TBSP olive oil and render prosciutto strips until just crispy. Remove, and drain on paper towel lined plate.
Add ramps into oil/prosciutto renderings, and sautee until they wilt to a spinach like consistency.
Remove, set aside.
When pasta is almost al dente, reserve 1 C pasta water and drain pasta.
Toss in pan from prosciutto and ramps, and toss with pesto. Add ramps, and toss, adding reserved pasta water as needed. Add lemon zest and juice and toss.
Add in prosciutto, and grate parmesan cheese over, tossing.
Serve immediately (and be ready for seconds.)