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Lemon Spaghetti with Ramps or Leeks

Serves 4

"Springtime in a bowl" is what Rach says about this lemony, well-seasoned, vegetarian-friendly pasta dish.


  • 2 bunches ramps (wild leeks) or 4-5 medium leeks
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3-4 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chili pepper, such as Fresno chili pepper, finely chopped
  • Zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 pound spaghetti or lemon spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese, plus some to pass at table
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley and mint combined, finely chopped


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Soak the ramps to remove the grit. Trim the roots and cut the ramps across where the whites meet the green tops. Finely chop the whites. Chop the greens into 1-inch pieces.
  3. If you are using leeks, trim the tough tops and rootsl; slice the leeks lengthwise and slice into 1/2-inch pieces.
  4. Heat the EVOO, three turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the whites of the ramps or leeks, garlic, chili pepper and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Stir 5-6 minutes, then add the wine or stock and reduce the heat to low.
  5. Season the pasta cooking water with salt and boil the pasta to al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water just before draining.
  6. Raise the heat on the sauce again to medium and add the lemon juice. Melt in the butter, then add the starchy cooking water and Pecorino cheese. Toss with the spaghetti and green ramp tops to combine.
  7. Serve in shallow bowls with more cheese and the parsley and mint on top.

Cooking with alcohol enhances the flavors of certain dishes. Some of the alcohol burns off in the process of cooking. If you are concerned about using alcohol when you cook, you may use the appropriate substitute listed in the ingredients.