Peas, Pasta, and Pancetta

Peas, Pasta, and PancettaSpring Forward
Over the weekend we moved nine cubic yards (I may have over-ordered.) of vegetable potting soil into my raised beds in anticipation of having an actual vegetable garden for the first time in about 10 years. The arrival of the dirt is one of the last steps before the real magic starts.

All of the family has been involved in this project. And, surprisingly without a lot of moaning and groaning from the younger crowd. In fact, I think they are excited to have something to devote their attention to outside. The three of them even built a compost bin. Because of that, compost has been a frequent topic of conversation around the dinner table. My how times have changed!

I started seeds weeks ago and already have a thriving variety in my husband-built DIY greenhouse. There are plenty of tomatoes in a wide variety of options—from cherry to giant-sized. There are peppers both hot and sweet in regular and snack-sized. I have a large number of strawberries in anticipation of some good jam. And, the herbs are coming along nicely.

Some of my favorites are already in the ground. The carrots and potatoes have popped up in my experimental grow bags. I’ve never grown anything this way so I am cautiously optimistic. My green beans are in the ground too.

But, what I am most excited about are the peas.

I love peas but I almost never grow them because they like the cold and you have to start them early in your garden. I was on it this year because, well, there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot of other things going on. They’ve started growing up the trellis and every day I go out there to see how much more they have grown. There are three varieties: English, Purple, and Snow Peas for my daughter. I admit to being a bit impatient for them to start producing. But, I know we’ll get there and at that point I’ll have more than I can handle.

In the meantime I daydream about all the different ways we’re going to eat them. Three of my favorite recipes from our archives are Ragout of Fava Beans, Peas, and Asparagus with Pecorino and Crispy Prosciutto, Stir Fry with Baby Boy Choy, Snow Peas, and Shrimp, and Spring Pea Soup with Burrata. And, then there is this gem for an easy weeknight dinner.

Peas, Pasta, and Pancetta
Yields 4 servings

This quick and easy dish makes for a great weeknight dinner. Just get some help shelling the peas. When purchasing fresh peas, remember that 1 pound of peas in their pods yields about 6 ounces. So, you will need a little over a pound and a half for this recipe.

16 ounces fettuccine or linguine
8 ounces pancetta, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
10 ounces fresh peas (shells removed)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of half a lemon

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the fettuccine and cook according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

Cook the pancetta
While the pasta is cooking, sauté the pancetta in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until it is crisp and golden-brown (about 6 minutes). Transfer the pancetta to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the oil.

Cook the vegetables
Sweat the onions by sautéing them in the same pan as  the pancetta until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the peas and garlic and sauté for about 3 more minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, drained pasta and pancetta.

Add the reserved pasta water as needed to make a creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with lemon juice.


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