I’m no forager. Once, I took a foraging class in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and managed to find varieties of poisonous mushrooms that even the instructor had never encountered before. (They looked like porcini mushrooms to me.) Nevertheless, I’ve gotten very excited this year about the wild chives that grow in a nearby field. I trust myself to forage for these chives because their oniony reek is unmistakable, allowing me to easily distinguish between the chives and the interspersed leaves of grass that are there just to trick me. If I were smart, I’d sell my harvest in the Union Square Greenmarket as “baby ramps” and charge $30 a pound.
I cook these chives very simply. First, I put on a pot of boiling water. Then, I go read for twenty minutes. When the water is ready, I add some pasta. (Any long pasta will do, although I’m partial to the chewiness of bucatini.) Then, I get out my good olive oil (purchased from DiPaolo’s Dairy, the greatest Italian food store outside of Italy) and saute three or four cloves of minced garlic. Don’t let it burn. When the pasta is ready, I drain it from the pot and reserve a generous 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water. (That starch is precious!) I add the pasta to the pan and toss it with the garlicky oil. Then, I add all my wild chives, which I chop into half-inch lengths. I add some of the reserved pasta cooking water, some salt and pepper, and cook for another 15-30 seconds. The pasta is served with lots of salty pecorino romano cheese and final drizzle of olive oil.
PS. Don’t have wild chives on hand? Move to rural New Hampshire! Or try a mixture of scallions, supermarket chives and parsley.