As Claudio says, it is spring, everyone is eating better greens. The cows and the goats and the sheep, now is the time to buy their cheese and cream. Now is the time to sprinkle everything with chopped chives, the eggs and the grilled things, the hummus and the goat cheese, the sandwiches and soups.
Find a farmer or a farm stand and buy the new spinach, that has just come. It is young and bright. Soak a great bunch of the spinach in cold water, in your biggest pan, until the water is clear.
Heat a 12” Le Creuset on medium and lift the spinach out, still all wet, and lay it in the pan, it must sizzle a second. Stir and add salt and the rest of the spinach, the whole bunch will fit as the heat shrinks the leaves. Stir and cover for four or five minutes. Then take it off the heat.
Heat a pot of water for pasta. When it boils, add salt and a penne pasta, or strozzapreti, something with edges, and stir.
With tongs, lift the spinach out, and lay it into a small colander, pushing gently on it to squeeze out the moisture. The big bunch of spinach is now a small lovely plump of spinach.
There are ramps in the spring market, but only in the spring. Chop three or four of the wild ramps into a mince, just the last two inches of their length. If you do not find ramps, a clove or two of garlic, chopped, will be fine.
Lay the small clump of spinach on the cutting board that has the ramps or garlic and cut it a few times this way, a few times that way.
When the pasta is four minutes from done, heat a 10” sauté pan on med low, add two tablespoons of butter and the ramps, stir to combine and then add the spinach atop, with plenty of salt. Mix and cook for two minutes and turn off.
Lift the pasta out, still wet and add to the pan with the spinach and stir to combine. Add two good tablespoons of fresh ricotta, stir, some fresh parmesan, a little salt to taste. Loosen with pasta water if need be. Pour a tiny bit of melted butter on top, some chopped chives, and more parmesan cheese and serve, pronto.
If you should have any leftover pasta, it is wonderful the next day, stirred into a simple soup. With, of course, more of the spring chives, chopped fine, and perhaps some of the basil, that is also just coming.
My God, what a well-written piece…..as someone who loves to cook and eat, this was a treat to read, from first to last.