Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pasta With Spring Peas & Pancetta

Spring peas. Just the name reminds me that spring weather is almost here. (almost, because in Northern New Mexico the current weather is chilly, windy and without bud break on the fruit trees.) And fresh peas are so easy to prepare. They can be cooked in just a few minutes, and are delicious paired with spring onions, or spring garlic, or fresh mint, or greens, fava beans, asparagus...just about any other spring vegetable is magical in dishes featuring peas. But, really, does it get any better than peas and bacon?

I fried Italian pancetta until crispy and then sauteed spring onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Added freshly shelled spring peas and tossed everything together with hot pasta. Smothered the dish with mounds of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and dinner was served.

Peas are an amazingly healthy vegetable. The website World's Healthiest Foods discusses this in detail, but I think my favorite benefit of peas is the eco-friendly  aspect:

  • Green peas stand out as an environmentally friendly food. Agricultural research has shown that pea crops can provide the soil with important benefits. First, peas belong to a category of crops called "nitrogen fixing" crops. With the help of bacteria in the soil, peas and other pulse crops are able to take nitrogen gas from the air and convert it into more complex and usable forms. This process increases nitrogen available in the soil without the need for added fertilizer. Peas also have a relatively shallow root system which can help prevent erosion of the soil, and once the peas have been picked, the plant remainders tend to break down relatively easily for soil replenishment. Finally, rotation of peas with other crops has been shown to lower the risk of pest problems. These environmentally friendly aspects of pea production add to their desirability as a regular part of our diet.
Just remember this the next time you are considering purchasing fresh peas...even better, maybe grow some in your garden.

Pasta With Spring Peas & Pancetta
(serves 6)

1 lb wide flat pasta (like Pappardelle) 
4 oz pancetta, diced
½ yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy..1 do!)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 lb fresh spring peas
grey sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil…when rapidly boiling, salt water well and add pasta. Cook following package directions (10-12 minutes) until just al dente (firm to the bite). Do not overcook. Using a ladle, remove one ladleful of the pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta.

 Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the pancetta until crispy. Remove from the skillet and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the 2 tbsp olive oil and onion to the skillet and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic just begins to brown. Stir in the peas and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and reserved pasta water to the skillet, stir well and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, drizzling pasta with extra virgin olive oil if desired. Top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

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It is Spring Peas week at Food Network's Sensational Sides roundup. Do you have a favorite peas recipe to share? Please list (or link) in the comments below. And be sure to check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

Taste with the Eyes: Succulent Fresh Fish and Spring Produce
Crowd-Peasing Recipes Using 3 Varieties of Spring Peas
Creative Culinary: 
Spaghetti with Pea and Pine Nut Pesto
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Pasta with Spring Peas & Pancetta
Red or Green: 
Sugar Snap Peas & Peppers
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Peas and Cottage Cheese Curry
The Mom 100: 
Sauteed Vegetable Frittata
FN Dish: 
5 Ways Peas Are Better with the Italian Treatment


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