Sunday, April 20, 2008

Making the switch

The cherry blossoms are gently raining down on the streets affording me a cushioned, blushed pavement to tread on. Silently my feet fall upon this carpet as I go out hunting though in truth I have no fear that my prey will bolt if I audibly alert them to my arrival. For it is the first of spring’s offering I am seeking, and today I found them -- ramps. A telltale aromatic sortie notified me of their presence -- even before I spied the pile of them on one of my favorite farmer’s table.

This signals my switch from winter's grazing upon the foods I put up and other products brought in from around the world. From this point forward my diet will consist of nature’s ever replenishing basket from the local farms and artisans in my area. I probably achieve about 90% of the foods I eat from now through November to come locally. Yes, it is good to lessen my carbon footprint but selfishly being a locavore gives me flavor, color, texture, and most importantly, nutritional value not to be found on a supermarket shelf.

Linguini with Clam Sauce - yields 6 servings

1 pound Linguini
1/4-cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound ramps - roots trimmed, and washed well
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2-teaspoon red chili flakes
3/4-cup dry white wine
48 each Littleneck clams - scrubbed clean
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves - roughly chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese - grated

Bring a six quart pot of water to the boil for the pasta.

Heat a high sided 10 inch sauté pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the ramps, pepper and red chili flakes and cook for a minute to release its aromatic flavors. Immediately add the wine and clams and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook the clams for 10 to 12 minutes or until the clams have open.

Cook off the pasta according to the instructions on the package and drain. Add the pasta, parsley and lemon juice immediately into the sauce and serve. You want the sauce to be waiting for the pasta, but do not let it wait too long as the calms will start to get tough. Garnish each plate with grated parmesan cheese.

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