One short time a year, ramps make an appearance in a few markets in Seattle. Ramps are like small wild leeks with a flavor similar to, well, a leek or garlic but more earthy. I love them. When spring comes around, I start looking for them and if I'm lucky, I get my hands on some. I found some at Uwajimaya earlier this week and also saw some at Whole Foods this morning. They do seem difficult to get and are not plentiful in our neck of the U.S. Perhaps this makes them all the more desirable to me. Tonight I'm pairing them with shiitake mushrooms and sausage to make a hearty and creamy rigatoni.
This made 5-6 servings
8 oz Shiitake mushrooms
1 lb Basil garlic chicken sausage (or substitute Italian chicken sausage)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry vermouth
3/4 cup, approx. of shiitake mushroom stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Soak the ramps in cold water to loosen the dirt. Then gently rinse and clean them. Dry the ramps with paper towels and slice them on a diagonal, separating the white stems from the leaves. Set aside.
Pull the stems from the shiitake mushrooms. Slice the caps into thick pieces.
Place the stems in a small sauce pan and cover with 1 cup of water. Simmer, covered for about 15 minutes to make a mushroom stock. Turn the heat off and let them continue to steep until cool. Strain the stems, pressing on them to squeeze out all of the liquid. Discard the stems and reserve the liquid.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Brown the sausage, breaking it up into small bite-sized pieces.
Once sausage is browned, add the shiitake mushrooms and ramp stems and sauté until just softened.
Add the ramp leaves and continue to sauté until just wilted.
Add the vermouth and let simmer for about 15 seconds.
Add the mushroom stock and continue to simmer for a couple of minutes.
Finally, add the cream and simmer until the liquid is slightly thickened.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook the rigatoni according to package instructions. I used Lagana's fresh rigatoni.
When rigatoni is finished, thoroughly drain the liquid and add to the sauce.
Simmer together with sauce for a minute.
Creamy yet fresh. Delish!