Returning to the Greenmarket this week Gothamist found a market in flux, yet bustling at the same time. Saturday it was still ramps and the very first of the asparagus, but we are crawling into the beginning of the prime season which begins in a few weeks as a market full of asparagus and green garlic will rapidly give way to peas, baby carrots, a myriad of leafy greens, further followed by all of summers bounty.

We checked in with Linda (wife of one of the three farmers given a big shout in New York Magazine), who talked us through some thoughts about this weeks’ ingredient choice. She talked to us for a bit about salsify and burdock, wintered over root vegetables getting life for a few weeks here before being ripped out. Although it seemed like a compelling enough theme for this week, when we stopped by Violet Hill Farm, the fantastic Greenmarket meat supplier who provided a whole pig for Bill Buford in a recent New Yorker article, some sweet Italian sausages caught our eye. Having recalled seeing some early season Broccoli Rabe over on the markets north side, we felt like we had a dish now – bring on Spring. Since it is the season, we threw ramps into our Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage, you can feel free to make this dish all year long substituting a mix of garlic, onions and/or shallots.

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sweet Italian Sausage

1 pound garganelli - you can use any short pasta
Kosher salt
1 bunch broccoli rabe, washed, bottoms trimmed
½ - ¾ pound sweet Italian sausage, Violet Hill or other HQ if possible
Extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch ramps coarsely chopped
(substitute 2 cloves garlic and ½ medium onion, minced)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped - careful, every chef burns pine nuts.
½ lemon
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

1) Cook pasta in plenty of salted water till just al dente. Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking liquid. Drain, wash and hold in cooking pot.
2) Blanch and shock broccoli rabe in salted water for 1 minute, 2 minutes if Andy Boy out of season. Extra minute will pull the bitterness out of the commercial product. Drain after cool and squeeze out the extra moisture.
3) Cook sausage in the casing till browned and just cooked through. Do not overcook, take a temp if cooked whole – 138F is all you need. Buy a meat thermometer if you do not have one. You can also brown loose sausage if you like.
4) Cool and slice very thinly if cooked as links, toss sausage and accumulated juices with the pasta.
5) In 1 tablespoon oil cook ramps or onions and garlic till translucent/wilted, add salt and pepper along the way. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in corner of pan with a few drops lemon, toss with broccoli rabe and sea salt.
6) Add contents of the pan, pine nuts, a bit of reserved water and some grated Pecorino to the pasta. Toss to combine. Adjust to taste for salt and pepper, adding some more pasta liquid to loosen the mix as needed.
7) Reheat gently if necessary and serve with extra grated cheese.