Artichokes offer both a spring and a fall crop (like figs), but I’m actually making this dish with marinated baby artichokes, which can be obtained any time of year–the same goes for leeks. The only exclusively early spring component of this dish is ramps, for which you could easily substitute garlic.
The leeks and white portion of the ramps are sauteed in olive oil, then the artichoke, some chopped tomato, white wine and chicken broth are added. The sauce may be thrown together in the time it takes the pasta water to boil. This is a very delicate sauce and does not require more than about fifteen minutes to cook.
For this dish, I’m using fresh egg linguini, rather than dried pasta. They give the dish a particularly delicate, luxurious quality. I like to add parmiggiano reggiano at the table, although many (other) Italians would argue that it overpowers the delicate flavor of the artichokes, and that this dish should be eaten without grated cheese.
This is a perfect vegetarian dish (omit the broth and use some pasta cooking water instead) and is a great first course to something delicate like fish or seafood. Or, to carry the spring theme through the meal, it’s great as a first course to a leg of spring lamb.
Pasta with Artichokes, Ramps and Leeks
1 1/2 lbs fresh linguini (fresh linguini shrink and collapse a great deal, so use more than you would when making dried pasta)
1/4 lb ramps, washed, whites and greens separated
1/2 lb marinated baby artichokes, pulled apart into leaves
3 leeks, white parts only, washed and sliced into 1/2″ half moon slices
1 1/2 c chopped fresh tomato
1/2 c white wine
1/2 chicken broth
6 tbls olive oil
Place leeks and white part of ramps in a broad skllet with 4 tbls olive oil and saute on medium heat until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add artichokes and tomatoes and saute for a minute. Turn up heat and add add white wine. Cook until wine is reduced by half. Add green part of ramps and continue simmering uncovered until pasta is cooked.
Boil pasta in salted water (fresh pasta should cook in less than 5 minutes). Pull out pasta with tongs and toss directly into sauce.
Drizzle with additional oil off the heat.
Serve with grated parmiggiano