Spring time greets us with glorious vegetables, many of them green in color and all of them delicious. They include asparagus, which is suddenly plump, vibrant green, and flecked with purple. There are fava beans, which are mild and fresh. And then there are ramps, or wild leeks, which are a fantastic cross between garlic and onion with garlicky green leaves, bulbs, and stems. Ramps are available only for a short time, so now is the time to enjoy them.
With ingredients this good, I like to do very little, like sauteing ramps with nothing more than some olive oil, salt, and pepper (recipe here) and perhaps a little cayenne. In this preparation, I cook a nice assortment of Spring vegetables very simply and toss them with pasta and some feta cheese, which melts partially and helps to create a sauce. Shiitake mushrooms add a good, earthy contrast to the freshness of the asparagus and favas. The result is fresh, light, and a little creamy. A real “pasta primavera” for Spring.
The trick here is to cook everything for the right amount of time, which just requires reading ahead a bit. Otherwise this dish should be fast and easy.
- A small handful of fava beans
- 8-10 ramps
- Half a bunch of asparagus
- 2 handfuls of shiitake mushrooms
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 4 ounces feta cheese
- ½ pound fusili or other pasta shape
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
- Meanwhile, do your prep. Shell the fava beans by slitting them lengthwise with a pairing knife and pulling out the beans inside. Thinly slice the bulbs and stems of the ramps and cut the leaves into thick bands. Slice the asparagus on a bias into 2-inch pieces. Slice the mushrooms. Slice or chop the garlic. Dice the feta.
- Heat a wide saute pan over medium heat. When the pasta water comes to a boil, salt the water and add the pasta and fava beans to it. Meanwhile, add the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the saute pan and follow it with the mushrooms, garlic, ramp bulbs, and ramp stems (holding back the leaves for later). Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally.
- When the pasta has about 4 minutes left, add the asparagus to the pasta pot and add the ramp leaves to the saute pan. After another 2-3 minutes (when the pasta is still a little underdone), use a strainer to transfer the pasta, asparagus, and fava beans to the saute pan along with a few spoonfuls of the pasta water. Add the feta on top and stir everything to combine.
- Cook everything together for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the feta has partially melted and a light sauce has developed. Add pasta water if needed for the desired consistency. Serve at once.