This simple ramp pasta recipe uses fresh seasonal ramp as the main ingredient to turn an ordinary pasta dish into an outstanding one in its unique taste and nutritional value.
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This recipe is written in a time of crisis where one is afraid to go to a supermarket and our selection of ingredients is limited to shelf-stable ones; mainly dried, canned or frozen.
Luckily we still have nature around us which, especially in spring, gives us new sprouts, roots and edible flowers that can easily replace store-bought salads and fresh vegetables. The beginning of spring is the best time to forage for fresh leaves of the ramp (wild garlic).
I have my places near a small stream of water where there is plenty of it.
So today’s meal is very simple that requires only a few ingredients that most of us have at home. The wild garlic gives this meal a special touch that gives an ordinary and very affordable dish a very unique touch in terms of taste and nutrition.
Foraging wild garlic
Wild garlic (alliuym ursinum) known also as ramp, ramson, ramps or Bear’s garlic can be identified by its distinctive smell of garlic and long pointed bright green leaves. Wild garlic is a spring ephemeral which means it’s here only for a very short period of time. the best time to forage is early spring when the leaves are young, full of nutrients and have a wonderful earthy flavour. Later when the garlic starts to bloom the leaves became tougher and slightly bitter in their taste.
This year we had a very warm winter and spring came earlier. So I started to forage ramps in mid-March. I know of places here where ramps grow every year, but if you're still looking, look for moist areas near streams or in the forest. Ramps also don’t like too much sun and prefer shadow. I always forage sparingly no more than 20 % of the leaves as I like to keep it for others and don’t want its growth to decline.
The whole plant is edible, including leaves, flowers and bulbs however I have used only leaves in this recipe. If you have ramps with bulbs use them instead of onion in this recipe.
If you have no access to fresh wild garlic, you can find it on food markets in the season or you can also grow your own ramp. Alternatively, grow other low-carb vegetables that can be used instead of ramp.
Cooking with ramp (wild garlic)
Once you get your leaves of bear’s garlic at home, wash them thoroughly to remove any soil or dust. I like to use 5 hand fulls each time I cook which looks like quite a lot but it shrinks considerably after cooking. When you clean the wild garlic, line up the leaves so they are easier to cut. You can also mix it with other herbs like spinach, green onion, wild rocket or arugula.
What are the health benefits of wild garlic?
Wild garlic belongs to the same family as garlic, onions, shallots, scallions, chives or leeks
As Its name and smell suggest, its medicinal properties will be similar to garlic. While garlic is known for its antibacterial, antiviral and antibiotic properties it may also help reduce blood pressure. Wild garlic, on the other hand, is the most effective in lowering blood pressure (1) when compared to other types of garlic.
Wild ramp is rich in nutrients and may reduce inflammation and promote weight loss (2)
Packed with vitamins, minerals, iodine, and other healthy substances, wild garlic is actually a mild natural antibiotic that can also cleanse the digestive tract from unwanted parasites.
Wild garlic pasta recipe
As I already mentioned at the beginning, this recipe is very simple and doesn’t require any specific ingredients or skills.
Pasta - fresh tagliatelle is prefered but feel free to use any pasta you have available right now.
Onion - can be also replaced with ramp bulbs
Garlic - are you asking why you should use additional garlic if we are using ramp in this recipe? The answer is simple. While garlic acts here as a spice and will be fried with onion in oil, wild garlic will act more like a herb that will be added later in the cooking to the dish.
How to make a ramp pasta
Finely chop the onion (or ramp bulb), garlic clove and spring onion
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and fry the onion, then add garlic with green onion as a last. Fry for 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally
If you wish to use pancetta instead of olive oil cook the pancetta covered until crisp and the fat is rendered, then continue as per direction.
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Cook the pasta as per the cooking instructions.
Place on a cutting board cleaned wild garlic and cut in into small pieces. Add it to the mixture with ½ teaspoon salt and stir occasionally.
Turn the heat to low and cook, until the ramp is tender (5 minutes)
Add mildly creamy texture to the mixture by adding some cream
Garnish it with sea salt and pepper and serve with some ramp leaves on the side and shredded parmesan on the top
Freezing just pasta will not make sense as you can store it in dried form for several years. However, freezing this ramp pasta might be an option if you want to use the taste of ramp when the season is over. What I would suggest is to undercook the pasta rather than overcook. Once you reheat, the pasta will get softer in texture and might get mushy. Keep it in a freezer bag and use it before 6 months.
If you are lucky and have access to wild garlic, freezing is one of the preservation methods. Just wash it and place it in a freezer bag.