Here in New York, we are finally seeing signs that spring is on its way. What has seemed like an endless winter is just now giving way to some much anticipated warmer weather. Soon enough we will have many more options at the market, including asparagus, rhubarb and, one of my very favorites, ramps. Rumor has it that if you get to the farmers market in downtown Brooklyn early enough, you can snag some of the season's first showing of ramps. I, however, have been unlucky, or (more likely) am not an early enough riser to be able to confirm this. What I have been able to find at numerous markets are spring onions. Hopefully you are able to find them too!
To help ring in the start to the new season, I have created a pasta dish that highlights one of spring's first sprouters. As you can see from the photo, spring onions look like an overgrown scallion. The more pronounced bulb can be either white or purple and the flavor is a little more assertive than that of a scallion, however they are milder and sweeter than regular yellow onions. Use them sparingly when raw, or in large amounts when cooked, like in this pasta dish.
It may seem like you are using way too many spring onions (I use 5 onions for 1/2 pound of pasta), but, trust me, it's not overwhelming. Once they are cooked down, they become sweet and mild and really make the dish. Tossed with hearty whole wheat pasta, wilted greens and some good Parmesan cheese and you have yourself quite a tasty and healthy one-dish meal. Bring it on, spring!
First Taste of Spring Onion Pasta
2 Tbsp. butter
5 spring onions, sliced into thin rounds (reserve dark green ends for another use)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 c. fresh greens (chard, spinach, etc)
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/2 lb. short cut whole wheat pasta (like penne or fuscilli)
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in spring onions and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. When the onions are just about finished cooking, drop the pasta in the boiling salted water. Add in garlic and crushed red pepper in with the onions and continue to cook for another minute. Wilt in the greens.
Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up an bits from the bottom, and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced by half. Drain the pasta just before it is "al dente", reserving 1 c. of the starchy cooking liquid. Add the pasta into the pan, toss in Parmesan cheese, and continue cooking until the pasta is done, adding in some of the reserved pasta water if it begins to look a little dry.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with a little more grated Parmesan, if desired.