Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bucatini With Ramps And Asparagus

Ramps, or wild leeks, are available for a very short time in early spring, so when I saw them at the farmer's market this weekend I had to pick some up. They have an earthy taste not unlike green onions, and are perfect when paired with other fresh spring flavours like lemon and asparagus.

But because they're not around for very long, or maybe because they're not commonly used, finding recipes that employ them is a bit tricky. I think the last time I cooked with them, I chopped them up and tossed them in with some scrambled eggs. Easy, but very fresh-tasting and delicious.

I think that's the key with ramps -- don't pile too many flavours on top. If you do, you miss the point. Keep it simple, and let them shine through in the finished product.

I found a spaghetti recipe on Epicurious (from Gourmet magazine) that called for the ramps to be made into a sort of pesto. For a few reasons -- one of which being I'm moving in less than two weeks and I've already packed my food processor -- I used it as a mere jumping-off point and came up with my own simple creation. Bonus: it took less than 10 minutes to prepare, perfect for a quick weeknight supper.

Bucatini With Ramps And Asparagus
Serves 2

1 bunch ramps (7 or 8), washed, root ends removed
1 bunch asparagus (about a dozen spears)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1/2 lb bucatini
2 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for grating over finished dish
1 tsp lemon zest, plus some of the juice from the lemon
Kosher salt to taste

Roughly chop ramps. Slice asparagus into 1/4-inch pieces, leaving the tips whole.

Cook the bucatini in boiling salted water, until slightly underdone -- about six minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.

Meanwhile put a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 1 tbsp butter, and 1 tbsp olive oil. When the pan is hot, add ramps and asparagus, and saute until bright green and tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.

Add bucatini to skillet along with 1 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp cheese, lemon zest, and some of the pasta water. Using tongs, stir everything together until the cheese and butter have melted and coated the pasta.

Ladle into bowls. Finish with a squirt of lemon juice and some Parm-Reg grated over top.

Adapted from Gourmet, 2000.