It's that time of the year: ramp season! These wild leeks, as they are known, are starting to become available at the farmers' markets. Just last Friday on my visit to the the Union Square Greenmarket, Berried Treasures was selling bags upon bags full of ramps. I'm sure they were all bought up by restaurants that day. But I myself bought a few bunches as I usually do and immediately started thinking of all the recipe possibilities.
Even with all the options, my go-to dish for ramps is always pasta. I love the flavor of the bulbs when they caramelize from sautéing and the greens turn slightly sweet after they have wilted. Tossed with pasta it's as simple and satisfying as it gets. You barely need anything else to make the dish shine because the ramps do all the shining.
For this recipe I like a little heat in the form of chile flakes and a bit of crunch from breadcrumbs. Some lemon juice adds a nice tang and crumbled Parmesan adds touches of saltiness throughout. Try this dish for a lovely spring dinner—add a glass of white wine and you're all set.
Linguine with Sautéed Ramps, Chile Flakes, and Toasted Breadcrumbs
12 ounces linguine
2 bunches ramps, white bulbs chopped
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
fine sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs
Cook pasta in liberally salted water just until al dente, a few minutes short of the full cooking directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water.
Warm oil in sauté pan set over medium heat. Add ramp whites and cook until very soft and almost caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add ramp greens and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Make room in the pan and toast chile flakes for 1 minute. Add pasta and combine. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in pasta water, lemon juice and cheese to create a thin sauce. Stir in half the breadcrumbs. Serve with additional cheese and breadcrumbs. Yield: 4 servings.