It is the season of fresh peas in Italy. You can not find fresh peas any other time of the year and when they are in season, its a time to celebrate. The season is short, so you must take advantage of it. Tuesday and Friday a produce vendor truck stops outside our house. I’ve never gone to buy from it but decided Tuesday to see what was being offered and decide what to cook with was for sale this week. As soon as I saw the peas, I knew I had to buy them. I wanted to make a meal that everyone in my family would eat, pasta e piselli con pancetta.
Instead of pancetta, we used bacon which was a big hit with the kids. This recipe could also easily be made with frozen or canned peas but if peas are in season, use them in this recipe!
Pasta and peas with bacon/ Pasta e piselli con pancetta affiumicato
340 g of short pasta (I used “pasta mista”, but any small shape would work)
300 g of fresh peas
4 slices of bacon
1/2 white onion
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
Pecorino (to taste)
First, boil water in a medium sized soup pot. When water is boiling, add peas and let cook for around 5 minutes or until they are tender but not losing their bright green color. Remove peas (but save water), rinse under cold water and set outside. Using the water you cooked the peas in, bring the water back to a boil and salt the water for the pasta.
Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Chop the bacon and onions. Add the bacon to the hot pan and fry for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. If the bacon doesn’t release enough fat to cook the onions in add a little olive oil (bacon here doesn’t seem to be as fatty as American bacon, so I usually need to add some oil). Add the chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent.
Once the onion is cooked, add the peas to the onion and bacon mixture. Mix to cover the peas with the flavor of the bacon and onions. Salt to your tastes. At this point your water should be boiling, add pasta and cook for one minute less than is recommended. Lower the heat on the pea mixture and continue stirring occasionally while the pasta is cooking. Once the pasta is ready, transfer it with a pasta spoon to the pea mixture, do not rinse pasta or you will some of its starchiness and ability to stick to the sauce. Add soup ladle full of pasta water to the pasta and pea mixture, stir. Let cook over low heat for a minute. This will cook the pasta.
To serve, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and pecorino cheese.