I seriously could not wait to share this recipe with you. It is fantastic. Amazing, even. Perhaps the greatest dish I’ve made this year. (True story: as soon as I took my first bite, I emailed John to inform him of this.)
Pasta with peas and mint is a classic combination. I’m not sure why it took me so long to give these flavors a chance, but if you’re in the market for something new and exciting, make. this. pasta.
Speaking of markets, that’s where the inspiration for this pasta came from. There’s an adorable Italian market right down the street from us (Tarry Market – owned by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich). Last weekend, John and I were walking around picking up a few goodies (black olive tapenade and, more importantly, homemade gelato) when I spotted fresh English peas. I only ever see these a few times a year, so I knew I’d have to act fast if I wanted to cook with them.
As soon as I got home, I planned out our menu, then went back a few days later to pick them up. Gone were the fresh peas that were already shelled, but I was able to pick up some fresh pea pods to shell myself. Also on the grocery list were pancetta, pasta, some sort of Italian cheese, and lots of fresh mint.
My mouth is watering just thinking about this.
Start with one pound of your favorite pasta. I couldn’t resist these adorably shaped garganelli, so that’s what I went with.
You’ll also want about 1/4 lb of pancetta (Italian cured bacon). If you’re able to get it from the deli counter, buy a small wedge, then cube it yourself.
Ah, fresh peas. Aren’t they gorgeous?
Use your finger to gently pop open each pod then carefully slide out the peas. Easy!
I love that they’re all different shapes and sizes.
I knew I wanted to add fresh mushrooms. My favorite these days are shiitakes because of their extreme earthiness. Make sure to wipe off their tops with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt, then chop off their stems before slicing.
I went with slightly larger chunks, but slice ‘em up however you like.
You’ll need lots of fresh mint. Doesn’t looking at all that mint make you want a mojito?! No? Just me?
(I may have placed our ice cream bowl in the freezer last night in preparation for some fresh mint chocolate chip ice cream. Don’t tell my hubby.)
Heat a little olive oil in a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat. Add the cubed pancetta and cook until browned and crispy.
Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon, then drain on a paper towel. (Oh my god, this pancetta was so good. I seriously could not stop eating it.)
Add thinly sliced shallots, then season with salt and pepper. After a few minutes, toss in the shiitakes. Try not to touch them for 3 or 4 minutes so they develop a nice color.
When mushrooms have cooked for 5-7 minutes total, add fresh peas. Season with salt and pepper, then add a little white wine vinegar. Scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Toss in the drained pasta and reserved pancetta.
Add butter, heavy cream (but just a little of each, I swear!), and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. If the pasta absorbs most of the sauce, add the remaining pasta water. Stir in roughly chopped mint leaves, then top with fresh Grana Padano cheese (or whichever cheese you have on hand).
Wipe the drool off your face, then serve immediately.
Guys, I am telling you that this is truly fantastic. I will probably make this again in a week or two just to get my fix before fresh peas are gone.
Garganelli with pancetta, peas, and mint: my new favorite pasta.
Garganelli with Pancetta, Peas, and Mint
Yields: 6 servings
Time: 15 min prep, 25 min cooking
- 1 lb garganelli (or other pasta)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ – ½ lb pancetta, cubed
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- ¾ cup shiitake mushrooms
- 1 cup fresh English peas
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ – 1 cup reserved pasta water
- ½ – 1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup Grana Padano cheese, thinly sliced
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then season generously with salt. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions, or until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add cubed pancetta and cook until crispy and fat has rendered, about 4-6 minutes. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.
- Meanwhile, add the shallots and season with salt and pepper. Cook until translucent, about 2 or 3 minutes, then add shiitakes. Try not to touch the mushrooms for a few minutes so they brown up nicely on one side. After a few minutes, stir, then season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, then add fresh peas. Pour in white wine vinegar and scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan.
- When peas are fully cooked, toss in the drained pasta and reserved pancetta. Add butter, heavy cream, and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. If the pasta absorbs most of the sauce, add the remaining pasta water.
- Stir in roughly chopped mint leaves, then top with fresh Grana Padano cheese (or whichever salty cheese you have on hand). Serve immediately.