Pasta is one of my go-to meals for a busy weeknight. I like my pasta best when it’s perfectly al dente, and tossed with a combination of fresh vegetables and umami-rich, heartier ingredients. When these complementary ingredients combine, the flavors become so intensely savory that you don’t need a lot of oil, processed meat or cheese alternatives, or pasta, to feel satisfied. But to keep my pasta-loving self in check, I use a food scale to measure the dry pasta. 🙂 The perfect amount for a dinner for 2, I’ve found, is just 5 ounces (2 oz serving of pasta = 200 calories).
The other day, I was at the farmer’s market when I noticed a bunch of ramps. They were all but unknown until recently, but their pungent flavor and lovely tenderness have made them increasingly popular. They’ve been described as onion-like but I think they’re more similar to what’s known as Chinese chives (different from regular chives). This green is transformed when stir-fried with mushrooms, white beans, and tossed with pasta, toasted walnuts and a squeeze of lemon juice–it’s like perfect harmony of flavors.
Pasta with Ramp, White Beans, and Shiitake
5 oz dry pasta (I used gemelli; you could also use medium shells or penne)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
about 3 oz fresh ramp
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed thoroughly and drained
about 5 medium shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
about 5 medium white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
about 8 walnut halves, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and black pepper
1. Boil water in a medium pot and cook pasta according to the direction. Remember to add some salt to the water! Drain and set aside.
2. In the meantime, prep the veggies. Clean the ramp and cut them into 3″ long pieces.
3. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When it starts to bubble slightly, add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring lightly. Add garlic and salt generously.
4. When the mushrooms are tender and give off some of their water, add the ramp. Stir to combine well, then add the beans, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the pasta and toss well and salt and pepper generously. Take off the heat and give a good squeeze of lemon.
5. Meanwhile, dry toast the chopped walnut in a nonstick or cast iron skillet for about 1/2 to 1 minute, until it smells fragrant. Add the walnut to the pasta pan. Enjoy!
Also see: Vegan Sushi 2 Ways
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling