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Simple Cooking: Pasta With Ramps And Chilies

By Anthony Todd in Food on Apr 18, 2013 3:00PM

It's that time of the year again — ramps have finally hit restaurants and farmers markets all over Chicago, and fans of the pungent plant are snarfing them down as fast as possible. Want to get your ramp fix? Want to know how to cook them yourself? Read on.

Ramps, as you may know, are a wild cousin of the onion. They are foraged for a few weeks in early spring and, along with asparagus, are one of the first things to hit farmers markets every year. Restaurants fight to get them, and home cooks often have to pay a pretty penny if they try to buy them from a grocery store. Our solution: Show up early at the farmers market.

What the heck can you do with ramps? Below, we've adapted a fabulous (and easy) recipe for pasta with ramps and chilies. If you're not in the mood for pasta, try a combination of the best things about spring: a ramp and asparagus frittata.

Pasta with Ramps and Chilies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

1 pound ramps (or as many as you can get — they cook down fairly quickly)
1 pound spaghetti
1 small shallot, sliced
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
3-4 crumbled whole dried chilies OR 2 tablespoons of hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
lemon juice
salt and pepper

Clean the ramps and trim off the root ends. Cut the ramps into two sections: the tougher white ends and the tender greens.

Get your pasta water boiling and throw in your spaghetti. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Saute the garlic, shallots, pepper flakes and white ends of the ramps until tender - about 2 minutes. Toss the ramp greens in, stir for 1 minute and then turn off the heat.

Drain the pasta. Toss it in the skillet with the ramps and oil, and top with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and the breadcrumbs. Eat.