Pasta with Fresh Peas
4 to 6 servings
I happen to love peas, and with this recipe for spaghetti carbonara I get plenty! I also love light—not heavy—creamy sauces. I often end up with a stomachache if I eat a sauce that’s too rich.
This recipe has a wonderful balance of flavors, and thanks to the low-fat milk, you won’t come away from the table feeling like you overdid it—unless you want to! This recipe is best when made with fresh pasta. You can find fresh pasta in the refrigerated section at your market. If they don’t carry it, use boxed spaghetti made with semolina flour. Always try to use fresh peas; if they are not in season, organic frozen peas are fine.
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces 1/4-inch-thick pancetta, diced into small cubes
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
8 ounces fresh pasta or dry spaghetti, bucatini or linguine pasta
1 cup low-fat milk, chill taken off
1- 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for sprinkling
1/4 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
8 fresh mint leaves torn
Freshly cracked black pepper
Red pepper chili flakes, to your liking. (optional)
To prepare the fresh peas, remove the peas from their pods and set aside. For frozen peas, run warm water over to separate; drain and set aside.
In a cold, large, heavy skillet, pour the olive oil and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the pancetta, and cook over medium heat until the pancetta is crisp. Remove the pancetta and set aside.
Add the shallots to the pan, and sauté until crispy. Remove the shallots from heat and set aside.
Cook the pasta according to package directions (remember to salt the pasta water—
1 tablespoon of table salt per 3 quarts of water.) Six minutes before the pasta is ready add the fresh peas. If you are using frozen peas put them in the boiling water 3 minutes before pasta is ready. Right before you drain the pasta and remove 3 cups of the pasta water and set aside.
Drain the pasta, giving it one or two shakes. Pour the pasta into the pan with the pancetta and shallots. Over high heat, add 1/2 cup pasta water, 1/2 cup milk and mix. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, mix gently but thoroughly. Add the remainder of the milk and Parmesan cheese, and mix thoroughly. This should thicken the sauce beautifully! If it looks too thick or gooey, add more pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, to maintain a creamy consistency. Top with more grated Parmesan cheese, and garnish with parsley, cracked black pepper, mint leaves, red pepper, flakes.