Tuesday, April 6, 2010


'Tis the season, my friends: the season for ramps. If you live on the eastern seaboard of the United States, chances are you've encountered ramps at least once. They're a wild onion prized for their unique stank and delectable, meaty flavor. They look a bit like a scallion, but with a purple tinge, slightly more bulbous, um, bulb and flat, dark green leaves. They pair gorgeously with anything smoked (like bacon), sweet (like corn or stone fruits) or tangy (like vinegar). And I can't get enough.

Last Saturday, after hearing that ramps had made their first Greenmarket appearance on Wednesday, I made sure to be up good and early for a trip down to Union Square. Turns out the slightly schizophrenic weather we've been having this year (freezing cold, then hot, then rainy and cool, then warm) is perfect weather for growing ramps, and that's why they're available a couple weeks earlier than normal.

I arrived just as the clock struck eight AM and hoofed it over to the Mountain Sweet Berry Farm Stand at 16th and Broadway. Sure enough, two crates full of ramps stood at attention, just waiting to be swarmed by food-obsessed New Yorkers like me (and you!). I was early enough to avoid any kind of line, and was even able to snap a few photos without being shoved from behind by ramp-mad hordes. And look what I spotted! (Pun not intended, but not edited out, either.)

Apparently, I was in good company. The Spotted Pig's bike, complete with cooler, was sitting right there, clearly awaiting a pre-ordered take of the morning's ramp harvest. After a swing through the market (and a stop in Whole Foods for some bacon, since Flying Pigs Farm was out), I jumped back on the 4 train to head uptown for a breakfast of champions.

Fresh fettucine with ramps, bacon and an egg is my traditional dish of celebration. I welcome ramps with open arms, pasta and pork. It's just my way. (Using fettucine and eggs from the Greenmarket helps keep things local, fresh and delicious.)

Trust me: you should run out right now to make this. (Vegetarian folk, just sub in a tablespoon or so of olive oil for the bacon fat, and don't skimp on the cheese. It's almost as good as the bacony version. A hit of cream or half and half wouldn't hurt you, either.)

Fresh Fettucine with Ramps, Bacon and an Egg

2 slices thick-cut, maple-cured bacon cut crosswise into 3/4 inch pieces
1/2 bunch of ramps, cleaned and chopped into one-inch lengths (about 1 cup)
1/4 pound fresh fettucine, cooked to al dente and drained (save 1/4 cup of the cooking water)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbs. olive oil
1 egg
Salt and pepper

Set a medium skillet over high heat; heat until hot. Turn heat down to medium high and add the bacon to the pan. Cook slowly, rendering the fat until the bacon is just crispy. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon.

Add the ramps to the pain and saute them in the bacon fat, cooking until the white parts begin to brown. Season (lightly) with salt and pepper, and return the bacon to the pan. Add the fettucine and stir with tongs to combine the sauce with the pasta, adding a little pasta water if things need moisture. Turn off the heat.

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over meidum heat. Once it's hot, crack the egg into the pan and fry until the edges just begin to turn crispy. Mound the pasta on a plate or in a bowl, top with the fried egg and parmesan cheese, and eat!

Serves one.


Robin Wendell said...

Sooooo Jealous. Ramps, sigh

Eddie Howard said...

That pasta looks amazing! I can't believe I missed out on the ramps last weekend. I'll have to get my butt over to the GM bright and early this Saturday!

Meg Blocker said...

@Robin: No ramps where you live? How sad!

@Eddie: Thanks! Yeah, I'm betting there will be ramps galore this weekend, so definitely make a point of hitting the market. And then cook them before they stink up your fridge!

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