Illustration by Erin Wallace
So maybe you’ve never tasted ramps, or if you have, you’re not quite sure how to pair them with cheese. Either way—don’t worry, we’ve got you. First of all: Ramps are similar to scallions, with bulb-like stems and leafy green tops, and they’re a member of the wild onion family. What sets them apart is their bold, pungent flavor, which combines everything we love about onion and garlic.
The name itself derives from the Old English term “ramson,” the common name for the European bear leek. From South Carolina to Québec, ramps can be grown in most low mountain altitudes. And they’re pretty scarce—with a peak season of only about three weeks—adding to their widespread allure, so get ’em while they’re fresh.
To enjoy ramps with cheese, try them raw with fresh chèvre for a punchy bite. If that’s not your thing, these are also delicious when sautéed—add them to creamy risotto, a melty omelet, or a cheesy pasta dish like the recipe below.
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ pound ramps, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 Fresno chiles, thinly sliced
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on desired spice level)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- ►Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water for later use.
- ►While spaghetti cooks, heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet until butter is melted. Add ramps to skillet along with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium high heat for about 3 minutes, until just wilted. Add fresh chiles and red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds. Add lemon juice, grated Pecorino and Parmigiano, and stir until combined.
- ►Add cooked spaghetti to the skillet, then add reserved pasta water as needed. Cook over medium low heat and toss to combine until the spaghetti is thoroughly coated. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to shallow bowls, top with additional grated Parmigiano or Pecorino, and serve immediately.