In my last post I shared my first experience cooking (and eating) sunchokes, a little delicacy that I was lucky to find in my CSA box. This week my CSA box exposed me to another new food: ramps. These guys have a much lovelier countenance than the sunchoke--dare I say I find them beautiful? Small, tender white bulbs with soft quirky roots; smooth, purple-hued stems; and clean, flat, emerald leaves. Yes, these are decisively more attractive than the sunchoke, and in my opinion, more versatile and tasty as well.
Recipes abound for pickled ramps, ramp biscuits, fried ramps, roasted ramps, ramp pesto (just check out this article). In the end, however, I wanted to do something that would really let the ramps themselves shine (after all, I had never had them before). I settled on ramps with a simple, light pasta: vegetarian pasta carbonara. To compensate for the flavor lost by omitting meat, I added soy sauce and smoked paprika for depth of flavor (thanks to Gilt Taste for the tip). Since the leaves can be a bit stringy, next time I think I will finely chop them instead of sauteeing whole. In addition, since we only had a few ramps, we took the rest of the pasta base and added fresh grape tomatoes and roasted asparagus for a nice, light spring pasta.