Back when I first started food blogging, I used to race home, cook something, and then post the recipe right away. Obviously times have changed and it takes me much longer (sometimes a month longer!) to post the recipes I've made. However, last night I made an incredible and simple dinner that just couldn't wait to be shared. I first heard about ramps a little over two years ago when I first discovered recipe blogs. They dominated the pages of TasteSpotting and I would search my farmers market for them to no avail. I soon discovered ramps are pretty much indigenous to the east coast. However, over the last couple of years, ramps are making appearances at some of the west coast markets. Around the same time, I also heard of fiddleheads and learned that they too were mostly an east coast fave.
Now, I know I am always boasting about what great produce we have in southern California and the produce I feature is all supposed to be local, but I have been ACHING to try these non-regional favorites for ages so I finally bite the bullet yesterday and paid extraordinary prices for these non-local treats...luckily, my investment paid off. Fiddleheads are the unfurled fron of a fern (say that ten times fast). When they are in this young tender state, they resemble a cross between green beans and brussels sprouts. In other words, totally delicious. Apparently you are supposed to boil them twice before cooking, but I took a walk on the wild side and simply sauteed them. Ramps are baby leeks that have an oniony, garlicky, and peppery bite all in one. By cooking these greens simply in some garlic and olive oil, I let the natural flavors shine through and the lemon brought out a burst of freshness that made this dish totally appealing. It doesn't take long to cook so even if you get home a little late like I tend to do, you can have this on the table in no time. It's not pictured here, but a healthy heaping of grated Parmesan certainly adds a nutty, saltiness to this dish that compliments the greens, lemon, and pasta well. I'm very happy that my first experience with these ingredients was a delight, and the only change I would make to this in the future is to put an egg on it. Will I pay these insane prices for the ingredients next time? Probably not, but at least I got a good fix. I guess now, I just have to move to the north east...or not.
Whole Wheat Pasta with Fiddleheads and Ramps
Makes 2 servings
6 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
1-2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 ounces ramps, whites and greens separated
4 ounces fiddlehead ferns, trimmed
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving a bit of the pasta water if necessary. Toss the pasta with the fiddleheads and ramps, adding a bit of the pasta water if the mixture is too dry. Check the seasonings and adjust as necessary. Top with the lemon zest and freshly grated Parmesan if desired.