cheese tortoloni, tomato, ramps, chili, lovage, micro beets


A package of a good frozen filled pasta is a lifesaver when there’s little time – and maybe even less energy – for putting together a dinner after returning home late in the evening [this time, after a lovely pop-up art fair on an island between the Harlem River and the a tidal strait of the East RIver]. The only other things necessary for an elegant small meal might be butter or olive oil and an herb, but there’s almost something else hanging around the kitchen that would make the dish unique.

This time, for me, the trigger was the small bundle of ramps which I had stashed at the bottom of the refrigerator, and the improvising went on from there.

  • twelve ounces of Rana cheese tortoloni ‘delicata’ boiled briefly in a large pot of salted water, some of which was reserved before the pasta was drained, tossed with a sauce composed of a few tiny garlic cloves from Whole Foods allowed to sweat in a little olive oil, joined by part of one sliced Serrano pepper from Whole Foods and the bulb sections of half a dozen ramps from Berried Treasures, which were sautéed until soft, the ramp stems added and pushed around the pan, and then 5 halved Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, stirred until beginning to break up, the ramp leaves introduced into the mix and quickly wilted, several tablespoons of the reserved pasta water added while the sauce was stirred, the pasta and sauce seasoned with a little salt and some freshly-ground pepper, divided into two shallow bowls, sprinkled with both chopped lovage from Windfall Farms and the last of my supply of micro beets from Two Guys from Woodbridge (they had survived undiminished for 10 days!), and drizzled with a little olive oil
  • the wine was a California (Clarksburg) white, Karen Birmingham 2015 Pinot Grigio
  • the music was Kalevi Aho’s Clarinet Quintet