Ramp Carbonara

Alex Van Buren
·Food Features Editor

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Photo credit: James Ransom, Food52

Ramps season is here—and with it, the unavoidable but well-deserved hype. The wild leek has a brief lifespan, so if you see it at the farmer’s market or a specialty store, grab a bunch.

Their flavor is inimitable: garlicky and pungent, but more delicate in flavor than garlic or big Vidalia onions. The bulbs can be minced and sautéed till tender, and the greens are wonderful when slicked with olive oil, fired on a skillet for a few seconds, and then layered on pizza, minced and folded into creamy mashed potatoes, or spun into a compound butter to slather on meat or fish.

But few things caught our collective, hungry, ramp-adoring eyes like this ramp carbonara. It uses both the ramp bulb and its leaves, features plenty of snowy Pecorino Romano and Parmesan, a full cup of delicious pancetta, and a sluice apiece of white wine and lemon juice. Plus, of course, pasta, which takes the edge off even the most interminable week.

Ramp Carbonara
From Food52

1 pound spaghetti
1 cup chopped pancetta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ramps
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/2 medium-sized lemon
5 eggs (if you use extra large - 4 eggs)

1. First, prep the ramps. Cut the root end off and separate the bulbs from the leaves. Slice the bulbs in half and then chop. For the leaves - stack 5 - 10 leaves on top of each other. Then slice them lengthwise into 1/4 inch ribbons. Repeat with the remaining leaves.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, parm, and pecorino. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large (big enough to easily handle a pound of cooked spaghetti) skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp (or a little less crisp if you prefer softer). Add your white wine and cook until reduced by half.
4. Remove the pancetta and add the ramp bulbs, cooking until soft, about 5 minutes. At this point - if your pasta isn’t quiet ready - remove from heat. About 2 minutes before your pasta is done, add the ramp leaves and cook until softly wilted.
5. While you are cooking the pancetta and ramps, get well salted water boiling in a large stock pot. Cook your spaghetti 1 minute less than suggested for al dente. (Your pasta will continue to cook in the sauce). Mine cooked for 11 minutes.
6. Drain your cooked pasta (reserving 1/4 cup pasta water) and add the spaghetti to the pan with pancetta and ramps. Toss the pasta in the sauce for 1 minute, allowing each piece to get coated with the sauce. The pan should still be at medium heat.
7. Pour the egg/cheese mixture into the hot pasta, using a wooden spoon to quickly distribute the mixture. Remove from heat and continue stirring for 1 - 2 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the eggs are cooked. (At this point, if your sauce is too thick, you can loosen it with some of the pasta water). Squeeze your lemon over the sauce and season with salt and pepper (if necessary).

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