Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pasta with Peas and Mint

I hate peas. I think they have a weird consistency. However, at the height of my pasta-making obsession last summer, a good friend of mine made a DELICIOUS ravioli filling consisting of peas with mint and ricotta. This prompted me to question my bias and I have determined that perhaps my dislike only extends to frozen peas. I was intrigued by an article in Bon Appétit a few months ago that paired peas and mint with pasta so I decided to give it a try. The original recipe says that you can use either fresh or frozen peas, but I am letting everyone know right now that the former is not an option.  True, it does take some extra effort to use fresh peas.  Shelling one cup of peas took a ridiculous amount of time.  But I recommend performing this activity on a porch in the shade on a warm summer afternoon (as I did) because it is quite enjoyable.  That is really the only appropriate setting for preparing this meal and you won't be bothered by the extra time involved in shelling.

The article in Bon Appétit is about cooking delicious pasta with the ingenious use of pan sauces. This recipe can be endlessly adapted depending on your favorite vegetable or protein. However, before you branch out to trying other combinations, I have to request that you give the peas and mint a try. It is SO GOOD. Using the pasta water made the sauce creamy and rich without using any unhealthy cream. The hefty portion of cheese I add at the end keeps me from categorizing this as a “heart healthy” recipe, but at least it is not as bad as some! I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend! 

Pasta with Peas and Mint
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Serves 4
Lots of Kosher salt
6 oz. fresh pasta (fettuccine or tagliatelle)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 or 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup shelled fresh peas
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Pecorino Romano, finely grated
14 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

Bring water to boil in a large pot. Season generously with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally until very al dente. Drain, reserving 1 ¼ cup cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Reduce heat as needed- you don’t want them to brown. Add the peas along with the cooking water and simmer until peas are cooked and the sauce thickens.

Transfer pasta to the skillet. Toss with tongs and cook until pasta is tender and coated with the pan sauce. Add the cheese and toss until melted. Sprinkle with mint, season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

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