June 15, 2011

Quick Fix Dinners: Pasta and Peas

Here in NYC, it can't seem to decide if it's summer or spring. Last week it was 100°F, this week it was 60°F. Since it's on the border of spring and summer, I've decided to include a spring-summer recipe that couldn't be easier or more classic, pasta and peas. Though peas are really a spring ingredient, they're still showing up at the farmers market. And they're still plenty sweet. The combination of peas, lemon zest, a touch of cream and a nice shaving of parmigiano is the prefect balance of slightly sweet, springy and savory. While an article I wrote earlier this year says to really, really cook your peas, the ones here are just quickly sauteed in some onion and garlic before the pasta is added. Of course, use fresh peas if you can, but frozen peas work surprisingly well. Adding whatever else you'd like is easy too - think sliced sausage, asparagus or garlic scapes (which I found at the farmers market today). The real trick to this recipe is to allow the whole thing to sit for about 5 minutes, covered, in the pot before serving. It becomes thick and cheesy. Yum.

This dish is easy to make - the whole thing comes together while the pasta is cooking, and is perfect to make for just yourself or a casual dinner party. Serve with a light salad of red lettuces (for a little color variation) and some sliced bread. Add a glass of white wine, and you'll be happy as you could be, floating between spring and summer.

Recipe below.

Pasta and Peas
-1 pound short pasta, like penne or rigatoni
-4 tablespoons olive oil
-1/2 red onion chopped, or 1/2 cup spring onion, chopped
-1 garlic clove, chopped
-2 cups shelled peas, fresh or frozen (if frozen, defrosted)
-1/2 cup whole milk or cream
-1/2 cup grated parmigiano cheese (plus more for serving)
-1 teaspoon lemon zest

-Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to instructions.

-In the mean time, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan or pot (large enough to hold all the pasta).  Add the onion, cook until turning translucent, then add garlic and cook another minute.

-Add the peas to the onion and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender.

-When the pasta is al dente, drain well and add directly to the peas. Mix to combine.

-Add the milk or cream, the parmigiano cheese and the lemon zest. Turn off the heat. Stir well and cover with a lid for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.

-Serve at once garnished with more parmigiano.

Serves 4