Spaghetti with Ramps (A Recipe)

A few weeks ago, I told you about the spaghetti with ramps I ate at Franny’s in Park Slope. It may be the case that ramps have come and gone now and you’ve missed your window, but if, like me, you stumble upon them at a farmer’s market this weekend, here’s an easy way to prepare them: cut off the bulbs at the bottom and sauté them in olive oil with a few pinches of red pepper flakes and a drop of salt. Don’t make the mistake I made and make the heat too high: you don’t want them to brown, just to cook through. Meanwhile, boil your spaghetti. Once the bulbs are translucent, add the ramp leaves which you can cut up just a bit. Add a drop of pasta cooking water to turn it into a sauce and when the spaghetti’s just al dente, add it to the cooked ramp mixture, stir it all together: no cheese! This is about subtle ramp flavor, yo. Once on the plate, you can top with toasted bread crumbs which I made by taking four pieces of white sandwich bread, cutting crusts off, chopping the white parts into tiny bits and sauteing those bits in olive oil until golden brown with a smidge of salt and pepper. The bread crumbs are actually the key ingredient here: they add texture and little explosions of flavor as you devour the first great taste of spring.

Spaghetti with Ramps at Franny’s

The “r” word made its first appearance on Twitter last week when one of the many food people I follow announced that they spotted ramps at the Union Square Greenmarket. “Ramps are here!” another cheered and, as happens every year, the ramp-lovers went on a rampage.

I’m a ramp liker, not a ramp lover. What are ramps? Ramps are really mild, skinny onions that pop up at farmer’s markets around springtime and are prized by chefs for their delicacy and their uniquely mellow flavor. I know that David Chang likes to pickle them (there’s a recipe online for that somewhere) and other chefs might use them in a sauce or a soup, but the best use for them I’ve yet encountered was the dish I ate last night at Franny’s: a simple and beautiful spaghetti with ramps.

Spaghetti Carbonara For Beginners

I frequently have to remind myself that there was a time when any exotic-sounding, technique-heavy recipe would fill me with terror. Cook the pasta until al dente? How will I know when it’s al dente? Toast the garlic until golden brown? What’s golden brown? How’s that different from brown brown?

And by facing my fears head on, tackling recipe after recipe, the fear is gone and now I love to cook. But I remind myself of my old fears because I imagine there are many among you who experience similar fears: “Me? Make spaghetti carbonara? Oh no, I couldn’t. Me? Little old me?”

But spaghetti carbonara is a good recipe for beginners because the payoff is huge and the techniques required are basic and quickly learnable. Here, let me prove it.

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