This orecchiette pasta pairs two foods you might find on a spring hike: morels and ramps, the latter being the wild leeks that grow from South Carolina to Canada. Both have the fresh earthiness of spring, tempered here by the richness of Grana Padano and mascarpone. Buying morels can get expensive, so if you can only afford a few, you can make up for it by adding another portobello or two.–Louisa Shafia
LC Ravishing Ramps Note
You gotta get ramps while you can. Trust us.
Orecchiette with Morel Mushrooms and Ramps
- 20 ramps
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups dried orecchiette (or small shells or another bite-size pasta)
- 4 portobello mushrooms diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 15 morel mushrooms quartered lengthwise
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup grated Grana Padano or pecorino Romano cheese
- Minced flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnish
- 4 tablespoons mascarpone
- Trim the roots from the ramps with a paring knife, and remove any loose outer layers clinging to the bulbs. Wash the ramps a few times in warm water to remove the dirt. Coarsely chop the leaves and set them aside. Slice the bulbs down the middle and set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, stir in the orecchiette and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the ramp bulbs and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the portobellos and cook until soft, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and morels and cook for 2 minutes more. Pour in the wine and simmer gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
- When the pasta is ready, drain it, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta and the cooking water to the mushrooms along with the ramp leaves, lemon zest, and nutmeg, and cook on high for 2 minutes.
- Serve the pasta piping hot with a shower of grated Grana Padano on top. Garnish with the minced parsley and season with freshly ground black pepper. Finish each serving with a tablespoon dollop of mascarpone spooned on top.
Originally published April 22, 2010