It is important to chop the cooked ramp leaves very well or you will get streaky bits in the noodles. Like most fresh pasta, you should eat within a few days. If you can't get your hands on ramps, which are only available for a short time in spring (you can buy ramps online at Earthy Delights), use the green part of scallions.
My instructions are for a tagliatelle, a noodle rolled fairly thin that is about three-eighths of an inch thick. But this recipe will work with most pasta shapes.
• 10 ounces all-purpose flour (2 heaping cups)
• pinch of salt • 4 ounces blanched ramp leaves, a little less than a cup
• 1 egg
Depending on how old your ramps are, you will need two or three big handfulls to get your four ounces. Get a huge pot of water boiling and add a handful of salt.
Toss the ramp leaves into the boiling water. Stir around and boil for one to two minutes.
Fish them out with a skimmer or the tongs and immediately dump them into a big bowl with ice water in it. Once they are cool, put them in a colander to strain.
Get a cloth towel, like a tea towel, and put the ramps in it. Wrap one end of the towel one way, then the other end of the towel the other and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.
Chop the ramps finely—don't use a food processor or you will get a mush. The finer you chop, the smoother your pasta will be. Remove any stray stems.
In a bowl, mix the flour and the pinch of salt and whisk or sift to combine.
Make a well in the center and add the egg and the ramps, then with a fork whisk the two together, gradually incorporating the flour until you get a shaggy mass.
Start folding the dough over itself until it comes together, then begin kneading. This is a medium strength dough, so you'll need to knead for five to eight minutes.
Cover the dough with a thin film of olive oil and wrap in plastic. Let it sit for an hour, or up to four hours.
Cut off a piece of the dough and roll it out in a pasta machine. How thick? Your choice. But I like it a little less than an eighth of an inch. This corresponds to No. 5 on my machine, which is an Atlas.
Once you have your sheet of pasta, you can cut it with the wide tines on your pasta cutter, or by hand.
To hand cut your noodles, make sure the sheet is supple and cool, not sticky. If it is, dust with a little flour and smooth it over the surface with your hand.
Loosely roll the dough sheet up so that the slices you are about to make form long pasta. Using a sharp (it must be sharp, or you will be in trouble!) chef's knife, cleaver or other large blade, slice the loose roll at intervals about three-eighths of an inch wide.
Understand that ramps, like all green pastas made with fresh ingredients, will have some fibers running through the pasta. This will make the strands stick together. You'll need to gently separate these by hand. Lay the pasta on the counter or board with some flour dusted on them.
Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
After every little batch, pick up the previous one that had been drying and give it a slight twist, making it into a loose nest. This makes for easier storage.
The pasta will sit like this for up to a day. Boil in lots of salty water until they float, and then for another minute or two. Serve at once.
To read about Hank's love affair with his "childhood friend" the ramp, click here.