Springtime hits, ramps come back in season, NYC foodies go wild. I try to be low-key about it because really, am I such a dork that I get so crazy excited about a seasonal wild onion? Um, yeah. Sorta. I mean, it's no Meyer lemon insanity, but I do love me some ramps. And what's not to love? A little bit scallion-y, a little bit leek-y, a little bit garlic-y, it's like all great allium qualities all rolled into one tiny vegetable.
Ramps are still not the easiest thing to find in markets. They are extremely seasonal, showing up in early spring and only sticking around for a few weeks. Since it seems that the general public isn't terribly familiar with them, I guess it is not worth it for bigger grocery stores to bother stocking them. Here in the city, you can usually find them at larger greenmarkets or specialty grocers. Luckily, there is a specialty fruit and vegetable market right in my building here at work. I spied some lovely ramps the other day and almost yelped in the market.
The best thing about ramps is that they have such lovely flavor that they are best when prepared super simply. Let their flavor shine through and don't go crazy. My favorite use is with pasta. Really, my favorite use of anything is with pasta. So I grabbed those ramps and some lovely fresh peas, then went over the the Italian market for some fresh fennel sausage and fresh fettuccine. OMG. It's like my dream meal. Recipe after the jump:
PASTA WITH RAMPS, PEAS, AND ITALIAN SAUSAGE
3/4 pounds fresh pasta
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage (if you can find one with lots of fennel, that is best)
1 cup shelled fresh peas
1/4 pound ramps, sliced into thin ribbons
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
freshly grated parmiggiano-reggiano
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil for the pasta. When the pasta goes into the water, heat up a large skillet with the olive oil. Remove the sausage from the casing and crumble into the skillet. Brown well and set aside. When the pasta has about 4 minutes left to cook (total cook time will depend on size and shape of pasta), add the shelled peas to blanch. When pasta and peas as tender, drain well, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta and peas to the skillet and toss well to coat with the oil and sausage fat. Add pasta water to moisten well and let simmer for a minute or two. At the last minute, add the ramps and the lemon zest and let the greens just wilt. Serve piping hot topped with a generous amount of grated parmesan.