The aroma of the ramps (wild onions), morels and sweet butter in this dish scream spring, and you'll find yourself lingering over every bite. Don’t be tempted to add cheese, either. It will only sully an otherwise crisp and clean dish. Also, don’t skip this recipe if, for some odd reason, you don’t like mushrooms. The ramp pasta itself, which lasts for a couple days in the fridge, is just as good with butter and cheese; yes, this is the place for grated pecorino or parmesan.
- salt, to season
- 300 g (2 cups) plain flour
- 125 g (1 cup) ramp leaves (see Note) or spinach
- olive oil, to coat
- 500 g fresh morels (see Note)
- 250 g ramps, leaves and bulbs separated (see Note), or 5 spring onions
- salt, to season
- ¼ tsp caraway seeds
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 250 ml (1 cup) chicken or mushroom broth
- black pepper, to season
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the pasta, start by getting a huge saucepan of water boiling and add a handful of salt. Have a large bowl with iced water nearby. Toss the ramp leaves into the boiling water. Stir around and boil for 2 minutes. Fish them out with a skimmer or tongs and immediately dump them into the iced water. Once they are cool, put them in a colander to strain.
Chop the ramp leaves roughly and put them in a blender. Add about 125 ml (½ cup) iced water to the blender and puree. Ramp leaves can be stringy, so blitz the hell out of them for a solid 90 seconds. Pour the contents of the blender into a fine-meshed strainer set over a bowl. Let this drain for a minute or two.
Put the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the ramps from the strainer and begin mixing the dough with a fork. It should come together as a pliant dough, but if it looks like it will be a little too firm, add a splash of the green water from the straining bowl. Once you get a shaggy mass, start working the dough with your hands. Knead it on a floured surface for 5 minutes. Cover the dough with a thin film of olive oil and wrap in plastic. Let it sit for an hour or so to hydrate.
Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Cover the rest while you work with each one. Roll the dough out in a pasta machine; I use an Atlas pasta maker. Roll it out to No. 4 on the machine, which is about 3 mm thick or so – not too thin. Dust the pasta sheet with some flour and run it through a spaghetti cutter (comes with some pasta machines). Dust the ramp pasta with flour again and set it on a baking tray or wooden board to dry. Repeat with the rest of the dough. The pasta will sit like this for up to a day.
To make the ragout, wash the morels and slice them into disks. Separate the ramp bulbs from the leaves. Chop the bulbs and slice the leaves in halves or thirds, depending on how large they are.
Arrange the morels and chopped ramp bulbs in a frying pan. Turn the heat to high. Once the morels begin to release their water, turn the heat down to medium-high and sprinkle some salt over everything. Sprinkle the caraway seeds over the pan now.
When the morels have released most of their liquid, add 30 g butter and stir to combine. Sauté the morels and ramp bulbs until they begin to brown, about 3–4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Boil this down by half over high heat.
Meanwhile, boil in lots of salty water until they float, and then for another minute or two.
When the ramp pasta is just about ready, add the remaining ramp leaves to the frying pan and cook for 1 minute or until they are just wilted. Put the finished pasta into the pan with the remaining 20 g butter and gently mix to combine. Grind some black pepper over everything and serve at once.
• Ramps, native to North America, can be substituted with other wild or green onions.
• Morels are available from select farmers markets. Substitute other mushrooms.
Recipe from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook by Hank Shaw, with photographs by Holly A. Heyser.