The food world likes to wax poetic about ramps. I just love to cook with them. From the second these wild leeks arrive—usually in early April when they’re thinner than pencils—to when they departure with their swollen bulbs in late May, I add them to as many dishes as I can.
Pasta with clams in a white wine sauce is a house favorite, so I recently thought, why not let ramps stand in for the usual garlic? Since clams and ramps both have fresh, bright but funky flavors, let’s just say that this pairing was meant to be. A quick word of warning: The resulting dish is quite fragrant so it’s best to open the windows while you cook!
And to drink? Try this with any minerally, salty coastal white wine, like French Muscadet, Spanish Albariño or Vermentino from Liguria in Italy.
- 6 ounces dried spaghetti or linguine or 12 ounces fresh tagliatelle
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ramps, white bulbs separated from the green tops, both thinly sliced crosswise
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water and drain the noodles.
- Meanwhile, in a deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the sliced white ramps and cook over moderate heat until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the wine and bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 minute.
- Add the clams, cover and simmer until the clams open, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss, cooking until the noodles are flavored with the clam sauce, about 1 minute. Add a little pasta water if necessary to keep the noodles slippery.
- Transfer the pasta and clams to 2 bowls, garnish with the sliced ramp greens and serve.