I recently had the pleasure of having my young nephew over for dinner. While he is unequivocally my favorite nephew (he's my only nephew ;), he is at that age where he can be quite the contrarian, and is a notoriously picky eater. He took one look at what the adults were eating for dinner and dug in his heels . . . In a desperate (and, yes, lame) attempt to dazzle him into trying our pasta, we told him that this was special, Dr. Seuss pasta. We had (mostly) all the components: green ramps, oozy poached eggs, and sausage (close enough to ham).
I'm happy to report that he WAS willing to try it, and us adults gobbled it up with abandon! —Oops! Were you gonna eat that?
- Serves 4-6 (as a main vs. starter)
Sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
Ramps (about 3/4 lb), root ends trimmed, cleaned (slice large ramps in half lengthwise)
Kosher or sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Packed basil leaves (about 1 oz), torn into bite size pieces
Asiago cheese, freshly grated
Vinegar (for poaching), optional
- In a large sauté pan, cook the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces with a spoon. Cook through, until browned and the juices run clear, about 12 minutes. Remove the cooked sausage with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
- Return the pan with the rendered fat to medium heat. Add the TBS of olive oil if necessary. Add the ramps. Sprinkle with the salt and a few good grinds of black pepper. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the greens are all wilted and the whites are just beginning to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the sausage back to the pan and toss to combine with the ramps. Turn off the heat and stir in the basil leaves. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water, according to package directions. When the pasta is done cooking, remove with a slotted spoon or spider and add it directly to the sauté pan with the sausage and ramps. Scoop out about a half cup of the pasta cooking liquid and add that to the sauté pan as well.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the pasta/sausage/ramp mixture and toss everything to combine. The cheese and pasta cooking liquid should form a "sauce." Keep warm over the lowest possible heat.
- Time to poach the eggs. For this recipe, I don't use a large pasta pot, but rather use a smaller soup pot or my le creuset. Once I've removed the pasta from the boiling water, I turn off the heat and add a teaspoon of vinegar. Then I swirl it a bit to form a "whirlpool" and gently slide in the eggs, which I've cracked into individual small ramekins. Once the eggs are in, cover the pot and let the eggs sit for 4 minutes.
- While the eggs are cooking, plate the pasta. When the eggs are done, remove from water gently with a slotted spoon and top each plate with one egg. Add a grind of black pepper and slice the egg open so the yolk oozes out and creates a "sauce" for the pasta.