Ramps are so hot. Food lovers crave these seasonal wild leeks and go bonkers when they are presented at restaurants and grocery stores. Well, sign me up. I’m definitely on the ramps band wagon. Readers of this blog know that I am always on the hunt for ramps. I enjoy ramps simply with rice, in a pasta, or sauteed and paired with proteins such as pork, lamb, or a white fish. But always, I’ve enjoyed ramps sauteed in a pan. Never have I enjoyed grilled ramps … well that just changed and so has my life.
Grilled ramps are a revelation, especially over a charcoal fire. The smokiness that embeds with the wolverine-like garlic, onion pungency of the ramps ie euphoric. When such grilled ramps are then tossed with a fresh pasta, like fettuccine, with butter, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and freshly grated (and sharp, peppery) pecorino romano, watch out. It is a pasta dish that is full of depth and sensory overload – particularly given its attractive simplicity.
Ramps, when grilled, become much more complex than if sauteed on a pan. I still cannot get the unique grilled ramp taste off my mind. This is the recipe to the pasta I made with the grilled ramps. Profound and easy to make. It has the smokey flavor and unctuous, without the need for guanciale or other pork products. This makes the grilled ramp fettuccine not only just an awesome pasta course, but a healthy one (relatively) too.
Recipe for grilled ramp fettuccine
- 1 pound of ramps (this may look like a lot, but like spinach, shrink when cooked)
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- Couple pinches of red pepper flakes
- Handful of freshly grated pecorino romano
- 1 pound fresh fettuccine (or other flat, wide noodle pasta) – either from DePasquales, if in Boston, or place like Whole Foods
First thing is first, get those grill going. I typically use a gas-powered grill given its ease of use and ability to better control the heat. But for this recipe, I highly recommend going old-school and tradition with a charcoal grill.
Remove the ramp roots. Leave the ramps fully intact (minus the root) and place them in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
When the grill is warm, but not super hot, add the ramps. Carefully monitor the ramps cooking and move them around with tongs every 30 seconds or so. We want the ramps to wilt and develop some nice char. But we do not want the ramps completely blistered and blackened with layers of char.
When the ramps are to your liking, remove from the grill. Thinly slice the bottom white bulbs to the ramps and set aside. Then split the green ramps in two. Add a large sautee pan over low heat and add the butter, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and sliced white ramp bulbs. Have a large pot of water ready at a boil, while the flavors in the sautee pan mingle. Salt the boiling water and add the fresh pasta. Be mindful to stir it constantly, so the pasta strands do not stick together.
The fresh pasta will cook quickly. When it is done, transfer over the pasta to the sautee pan with some of the starchy pasta water. Throw in the ramp tops and the pecorino romano cheese. Mix together and add some more butter, olive oil and pasta water if the pasta looks too dry. Serve and eat immediately. Grilled ramps, like a boss!