A Guest Blog by Caitlin Mullett
Ramps are one of those foods that mark time, the appearance of their tender leaves signifies the arrival of spring and has people running to the farmer’s market. These cousins of the spring onion smell and taste like a combination of leek and garlic, making them easy to incorporate into almost any recipe you would use garlic or mild onion. Growing in damp end-of-winter soil, ramps have a short growing season and are most commonly foraged, making them in short supply. The vegetable-equivalent of a Hermes Birkin bag, ramps have developed a cult-like following and can demand a premium price, if you can get your hands on them! Lucky for me, ramps were delivered to my doorstep by Lorrie from Stony Ridge Farms.
After finding out ramps would be in my CSA, I spent half a day deciding what to do with them before they had even arrived! I considered pickling them, grilling them or using them in risotto, but decided on a carbonara recipe that utilized both the ramps and farm fresh eggs from Stony Ridge. With good prep, the recipe is quick to make; crisping the pancetta and layering the sauce’s flavors while the pasta boils and then stirring, stirring, stirring to coat the pasta with egg and parmesan. The green ribbons of ramp leaves running throughout add great color to the egg-y yellow pasta and who can say no to pancetta!? With our windows open, letting in most wonderful sunny Sunday weather, the scent of pancetta mixed with the garlicky-oniony ramps flooded out onto the sidewalk. We had more than one person take a look in to see what was cooking!
Carbonara is a very rich dish, but without all the butter or heavy cream you would think it have and adding ramps makes it feel extra special, perfect for a sit down family meal or date night. This recipe yields six sizeable servings and could easily be cut in half for a smaller family or couple, but, to be honest, it’s so good I appreciate the leftovers!
1 lb spaghetti
8 oz chopped pancetta
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ lb ramps*
⅓ cup white wine
¾ cup grated parmesan
5 large eggs
First, prep the ramps. Cut the root end off and separate the bulbs from the leaves. Slice the bulbs in half and then chop. For the leaves - stack 5 - 10 leaves on top of each other. Then slice them lengthwise into 1/4 inch ribbons. Repeat with the remaining leaves.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and cheese. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large (big enough to easily handle a pound of cooked spaghetti) skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp. Add your white wine and cook until reduced by half.
Remove the pancetta and add the ramp bulbs, cooking until soft, about 5 minutes. At this point - if your pasta isn't quite ready - remove from heat. About 2 minutes before your pasta is done, add the ramp leaves and cook until softly wilted.
While you are cooking the pancetta and ramps, get well salted water boiling in a large stock pot. Cook your spaghetti 1 minute less than suggested for al dente. (Your pasta will continue to cook in the sauce).
Drain your cooked pasta (reserving ¼ cup pasta water), add the spaghetti and pancetta to the pan with the ramps. Toss the pasta in the sauce for 1 minute, allowing each piece to get coated with the sauce.
Remove from heat, pour the egg/cheese mixture into the hot pasta, using a wooden spoon to quickly distribute the mixture. Continue stirring for 1 - 2 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the eggs are cooked. (At this point, if your sauce is too thick, you can loosen it with some of the pasta water). Squeeze your lemon over the sauce and season with salt and pepper (if necessary).
*I did not have a full half pound of ramps, but supplemented with scallions, also from Stony Ridge Farms. The leaves of the ramps provide great color running throughout the dish when sliced in ribbons.
Caitlin is a lifestyle blogger based out of Fells Point in Baltimore, MD and can most likely be found drinking wine on a patio with her dog, Teddy Roosevelt. With a focus on food, booze, beauty and fashion, Caitlin and her blogging partner Danielle are on the lookout for the best new restaurant, lipstick, "healthy snack" and everything in between to feature on their blog, Our Time of the Month.