May 2, 2019

Ramp Pesto Spaghetti with Burrata

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
In this recipe ramps shine as a pesto, a seasonal spring ingredient paired with pancetta and burrata tossed with spaghetti.

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This recipe is inspired by one that first appeared in Gourmet magazine in April of 2000 and more recently was included in Ruth Reichl’s latest book Save me the Plums. In my version I added pancetta and breadcrumbs toasted in the rendered fat to add more salty/ nutty flavor and burrata to add creaminess.

This recipe is great because it comes together quickly and makes use of only a few ingredients. While the majority of the ingredients can be found all year round, the shining ingredient, ramps, are only found for a few weeks in the spring. While usually the farmer’s market is the best choice to find them I recently discovered some at Eataly.

Ramp Pesto Spaghetti with Burrata

All About Ramps

While it can be hard to describe what ramps are, it’s easy to explain what they aren’t. They aren’t leeks or scallions or onions or shallots but they are in the same allium family. They are often referred to as wild leeks or spring onions and taste more like a mix of mild garlic and leeks. Look for a pale pink or white bottom and two wide flat leaves coming from the top. They are typically foraged in the spring for a short period of time so keep an eye out.

“It’s like that elusive thing — the bad boyfriend, the jazzy car of the vegetable world.”

Former Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin
Ramp Pesto Spaghetti with Burrata recipe from cooking with cocktail rings

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Ramps – While I love their flavor and the hunt for the obscure alliums is almost as fun as finally finding them. In the spring I am constantly on the lookout every trip to the farmers market and grocery store I go to. It’s one of those ingredients like morels or fiddleheads where I will buy them when I see them and figure out what to make later.
  • Pancetta – Pancetta comes from pork belly and is salted, seasoned, cured and aged for an extended period of time. Pancetta is similar to bacon in flavor though not as smokey. 
  • Breadcrumbs – I love making my own breadcrumbs using stale, leftover bread by pulsing it in the food processor until it forms fine crumbs. Use plain breadcrumbs in this recipe. Italian breadcrumbs will be seasoned with other herbs that will contradict the other flavors.
  • Burrata – Burrata, a soft cow’s milk cheese from Italy, is essentially mozzarella filled with a creamy interior. It has become very popular in recent years for its rich, clean flavor. The cold, creamy cheese is the perfect contrast to the herby, oniony flavor pasta.

Ramp Pesto Spaghetti with Burrata recipe from cooking with cocktail rings

How to Make Ramp Pesto

  1. Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add the salt and bring back to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Set aside 1 cup of the pasta water then drain and return the pasta to the pot.
  2. Blanch the ramps. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the ramps to quickly blanch them, about 10 seconds. Then add to ice cold water to cool and drain, squeezing out any excess water.
  3. Blend the pesto. Roughly chop the ramps and add to a blender with the lemon zest, olive oil and ½ cup of the pasta water. Pulse until the pesto sauce is blended.
  4. Cook the pancetta. In a cold nonstick skillet, add the pancetta and cook over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fat has rendered and pancetta is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  5. Make the breadcrumbs. Return the pan to heat and add butter and allow to melt. Add the breadcrumbs, stirring to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from stove and set aside.
  6. Combine and serve. Over medium-low heat, toss the pasta with the ramp pesto, the remaining pasta water and the Parmesan. Divide among warmed pasta bowls and top with the pancetta, breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes and burrata.

closeup burrata

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Ramp Pesto Spaghetti with Burrata

Print Pin
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • ¾ pound spaghetti
  • ½ pound ramps
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 ounces diced pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 ounces burrata

Instructions:

  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add the salt and bring back to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Set aside 1 cup of the pasta water then drain and return the pasta to the pot.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the ramps to quickly blanch them, about 10 seconds. Then add to ice cold water to cool and drain, squeezing out any excess water.
  • Roughly chop the ramps and add to a blender with the lemon zest, olive oil and ½ cup of the pasta water. Pulse until the sauce is blended.
  • In a cold nonstick skillet, add the pancetta and cook over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fat has rendered and pancetta is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  • Return the pan to heat and add butter and allow to melt. Add the breadcrumbs, stirring to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from stove and set aside.
  • Over medium-low heat, toss the pasta with the ramp pesto, the remaining pasta water and the Parmesan. Divide among warmed pasta bowls and top with the pancetta, breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes and burrata.

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