Wild ramps are a great taste of spring and so you have to get them during their all too brief season.
The foraging is a case of walking through woodland trails of Western Massachusetts until you smell the garlicky spring onion aroma… then look around and voila, there are the ramps. They do have a strong odor that will fill a car in seconds (and your fridge when you get home) so we find it best to pick and use them the same day.
Wash the ramps with plenty of cold water then trim off the root.
Remove the leaves and set aside. Blanch the bulbs in boiling, salted water.
Shock in ice water to stop the cooking.
Chop the leaves.
Blanch the leaves and shock in ice water.
Begin the orzo pasta cooking in salted boiling water (we used the blanching water from the ramps). While it is cooking, slice and cook the pancetta.
Drain most of the rendered fat from the pancetta then strain the orzo and toss in the pan with the pancetta and the ramps. Add a good drizzle of olive oil, a splash of sherry vinegar, salt and pepper.
A perfect quick lunch or light supper. We found the flavor of the orzo to be highly enhanced by cooking it in the ramp water. It was a subtle but striking flavor that made all the difference to us.