Recipe: Pasta Primavera
This week’s recipe is from Berkshire-based duo The Butcher & The Baker. The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York where her parents are candlestick makers. Together they spend most of their time talking about, shopping for, making, and eating food. By sourcing locally and sustainably, and spending time with the producers of their food, they’ve learned that every meal tells a story.
When we were living in the city, winter seemed to transition into spring in the blink of an eye. One day there was slush on the trees and the next, branches sprouted buds and curbside daffodils burst open. We used to wait impatiently until the first crates of fiddlehead ferns and bunches of ramps and asparagus showed up at the Union Square market — in stock for a few weeks and gone for another 48. Now, out in New Marlborough, the first signs of the season sprout up slowly around us — first with sightings of silvery alliums bordering swamps in the neighborhood, then with little fern coils pushing their way out of soil alongside the road on our evening walk, and then with the thin purple and green stalks peeking out of the dirt in our garden. It’s an exciting way to experience our first spring back in the country, and infinitely more affordable.
To celebrate these early greens, we decided to make a true pasta primavera. Often, primavera is associated with mediocre red-sauce Italian restaurants serving soggy noodles covered with a heap of chopped vegetables — bell peppers, zucchini, yellow summer squash — found on the bottom shelf of a walk-in refrigerator. The problem is, these vegetables are neither the first of the season (prima) nor are they green (vera). But when it comes to seasonal produce — if you’ve got it, flaunt it!
Ramp and fiddlehead ferns just happen to be perfectly suited to a bed of pasta. We used that as a jumping off point for this recipe but it could be easily adapted to any of the other wonderful spring greens: garlic scapes, spring onions, pea shoots, nettles, dandelion greens or arugula. Because we’re lazy, we stuck with what was at hand in our own backyard, but that doesn’t mean you should.
1 lb. linguine
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed off and cut into one-inch lengths
1 pint fiddlehead ferns, washed — or substitute with any of the greens listed above
1 bunch ramps, bulbs trimmed, removed from the greens — or try garlic scapes
¼ cup bread crumbs
3 Tbsp. olive oil plus ¼ cup
1/3 cup grated pecorino
salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Pour 3 Tbsp. of olive oil in a medium pan and turn to medium-high heat.
3. When the olive oil is shimmering and just about to smoke, add the ramp bulbs.
4. After a couple of minutes, throw in the fiddleheads and asparagus.
5. Boil linguine according the directions on the package.
6. When pasta is done, drain and add to a bowl with the ramp greens (and/or arugula/pea shoots), breadcrumbs, and pecorino. Toss thoroughly and finish with a little more olive oil and salt. Serve immediately.