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One of the things I love the most about the farmers market is finding something new, practically in my own backyard.
For instance, while meandering around the Northwestern Vermont Farmers Market I ran across a vendor with pea shoots. It was like I had struck cooking gold.
If you’ve never had pea shoots, jump in the car and head straight to your nearest farm stand or market. Drive until you lay your hands on them. They’re amazing. It’s like eating the best, most pure pea you’ve ever tasted.
I’m crazy in love with pea shoots. When I first rinsed them off in the colander and tasted them, I went running into the living room to have my husband sample them.
“These are amazing!” I yelled.
“They’re dripping on my laptop!” he said, but quickly admitted: “Oh, wow. If my laptop had fried because it got wet, it actually might have been worth it. These things are incredible.”
Note: Pea shoots are almost worth frying a laptop for.
The other great thing about the farmers market is the “hang time.” My husband is a wood worker and he shares a booth with a jewelry-making friend of ours and her two children. So, while Jedd and Kelee tend to customers, her kids and I have a tradition where they walk around with me and help me grab ingredients for the week.
And the super fun part is that the kids love to sample everything I get. They’re curious and adventurous eaters, so whether it’s beet greens or hot peppers, they want to taste everything I buy. Nothing is out of their comfort zone.
However, this week they got a little bit out of mine. Comfort zone, that is. That’s because aside from the pea shoots, I’d also purchased ramps.
Ramps, or wild leeks if you’re not familiar with them, are kind of a cross between garlic and onions. And they can vary in flavor between very strong or moderately flavored. So, when Apple and Otto wanted to try them, I suggested that they start with the green part of the ramp, which is much milder than the bulb.
I was standing 5 feet away from the kids and took photos when they gobbled up the greens. And even from that distance I could smell pure garlic.
My first thought was, “Wow, Kelee is going to have a long trip home locked up in a vehicle with two kids with garlic coming out of their pores.”
My second thought was, “They love ramps! These kids are fearless.”
And then Apple and Otto wanted to try the bulb.
I explained that the flavor was going to be pretty intense, but they insisted. So, Apple – being the big sister – took a bite first. And promptly ran away screaming.
Otto wouldn’t be deterred. He took a bite and held it for about 30 seconds to prove he could handle it, and ran away screaming too.
Raw ramps aren’t for the faint of heart.
There’s one thing I’m very confident about, though. The kids and their parents are going to love this dish. I know my husband and I did. Pasta and ramp greens with a little spice and pea shoots? Oh, yes.
Pappardelle with ramps and pea shoots
1 (8 oz.) box of pappardelle
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1 bunch ramps, greens only
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup pea shoots
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pappardelle and cook for 5-7 minutes or until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil and chili flakes in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the ramp greens. Sauté until they’re the consistency of wilted spinach.
Drain pasta and stir in the ramp greens. Divide the mixture between 4 plates and top with panko and pea shoots. Serve immediately.