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Dinner Tonight: Ramps with Linguine

I'd never eaten a ramp before in my life. But there I found myself week after week, trolling greenmarkets, unable to wait for something other than root vegetables. My own obsession was mysterious, but the general public excitement over ramps is remarkable. Ignored as nuisances for years, they are also called wild leeks and have flat, floppy leaves and a beautiful purple stem. The flavor is an earthy pungent combination of scallions and garlic, and is usually served simply grilled, in pastas or risottos, or baked into gratins and frittatas. The prices are quite fetching—up to $20/pound—for what is essentially a weed. When they first came, ramps were often sold out at the market by 9 a.m.

So when I finally did land some ramps, I went straight to this recipe from an article on Gourmet.com by a former chef at Babbo, Yoshi Yamada. He describes the Babbo preparation in a paragraph with imprecise quantities and large strokes—but essentially, it's ramps, bread crumbs, cheese, and olive oil. The ramp bulbs are sliced away and cooked in hot oil, while the leaves are julienned and tossed in off the heat. I've guessed at a few quantities here, but everything came out well for me—the wafting ramp flavor came through beautifully, the breadcrumbs gave it texture, and Pecorino (instead of Parmesan) offered a little sharpness to echo the ramp's more biting qualities.

About the author: Blake Royer lives in Brooklyn and spends most of his free time cooking and writing about it here at Serious Eats and on The Paupered Chef. From 9 to 5 weekdays, he works as an assistant book editor in Manhattan.

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