Yesterday, for the first time, I saw ramps at the greenmarket in Union Square. Hello spring! Ramps, also known as spring onions or wild leeks, have become somewhat fashionable in the foodie world these last years. They taste earthy, garlicky, strong or mellow depending on the preparation, and always tasty.

Ramps can be used in a similar way you would cook with scallions or leeks: raw, grilled, in soups, sauces, pesto, and my favorite: pastas. I wasn’t able to cook these beauties last night but looked forward to coming home all day today. They didn’t disappoint.

It’s important you wash ramps thoroughly. To do this I cut the bulb and stems from the leaves and soak them in a big bowl of cold water. I change the water at least three times to get all the dirt out. After washing, peel the skin off the stems. Dry the ramps thoroughly with a towel.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add your pasta — tonight it was linguine but any shape will do.

Heat 2 or 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet, and when warm, add the white stems. Cook over medium heat for about ten minutes which mellows out the flavor and infuses the oil with an oniony aroma. Meanwhile cut the leaves in halves or thirds, crosswise. When the stems have been cooking for about five minutes, add a couple cloves of chopped garlic and crushed red pepper.

Drain the pasta when it’s al dente, reserving a few tbsp of the salty cooking liquid, and set aside.

Turn the heat down on your skillet and add the ramp leaves, fresh lemon juice or lemon zest, salt and pepper. Just wilt the leaves, about one minute. Turn off the heat and add the pasta and the reserved cooking liquid. Grate a hard, salty cheese like Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano over the top. Serve with some crusty bread or a green salad. Exquisite (if I do say so myself).

And because I’m greedy when it comes to greens, I also added some spinach leaves to the mix at the same time I added the ramp leaves. A gal needs her greens.

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