Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pasta with Peas and Parmesan

"Plant a radish, get a radish, never any doubt. That's why I love vegetables, you know what they're about!"
-Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt

This post is part of a series, Healthy Vegetarian Mains.

This recipe comes from the January 2001 edition of O magazine. How do I know that, you ask? I cut recipes out of magazines I like, and put them in plastic sleeves in a binder to keep them intact. This is one I have gone back to again and again over the years, (10 years to be exact. Yikes.) You couldn't ask for it to be any easier, I usually have the ingredients on hand, and it's creamy, satisfying and delicious.

Is it healthy? Well that depends on how you see it. I use Dreamfields pasta when I'm the only one eating it (over a period of days, mind you.) (I don't think anyone else would mind or be able to tell for that matter if I did serve it to them.) I eat it because it is low in carbs. One could use whole wheat pasta, or rice pasta if you are gluten free. If it were summertime I would make zucchini ribbons to use like pasta, (since I grow it and usually have an abundance) or sometimes I use spaghetti squash like it were pasta. If you did that, this dish would be solid vegetables. Now that, I say, would certainly be good for you!

The original recipe comes from Manhattans Po restaurant. The chef, (in 2001) John Baron says, "it's the perfect dish for a January night. The sauce has a bright, straightforward flavor. It is a simple recipe that relies on the quality of the ingredients. So keep in mind that all olive oil is not created equal and walk that extra block for the grainy, buttery, sharp tang of true Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The result will be a bowl full of pasta that's nothing short of bliss."

I couldn't agree more. And if the great taste isn't enough to make it a fabulous recipe, or the fact that it only has 5 ingredients, get a load of this. You can whip up this sauce in less time it takes than to cook the pasta. No joke, this recipe seriously rules.

I've changed the recipe a bit over the years, one being the original calls for 1/3 cup olive oil. I don't think it needs that much, just a few tablespoons is plenty for me. I also add a bit more peas, to use up a whole 1 lb package. For convienience and I like my pasta to have plenty of sauce.

Pasta With Peas and Parmesan

1 lb pasta your choice. Fettuccine or Pappardelle are good choices, or use whatever you like, I used Dreamfields spaghetti this time

1 lb bag frozen peas (divided)
1 cup chopped onion (one small onion) red is good, tonight I only had a white one, that was good as well
3 tablespoons good quality olive oil (divided)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper (1/4 to 1/2 tsp)
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or if I don't have that (like today), I use a good quality Parmesan cheese
1/2 to 3/4 cup water

Put a pot of water on the stove to cook the pasta. When it boils cook the pasta, and drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Set aside.
Use one tablespoon of the olive oil and cook the onion, salt, sugar and pepper in a skillet over medium heat. When onion is soft, add 2 1/2 cups of the frozen peas. (frozen or defrosted, it doesn't matter.) Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, until the peas are hot. Heat up the remaining peas, and set aside.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree with 1/2 to 3/4 cup water along with 2 tablespoons olive oil. (you can add more oil if you'd like a silkier sauce, up to 1/3 cup.) Taste it and see if it needs more salt.
Add the pea puree to the cooked pasta and toss. Add a little pasta water if you think it needs it. Use the remaining whole peas for garnish or stir them in the pasta.
Top and serve with lots of freshly grated cheese.


Lee said...

This recipe actually looks easy enough for me to try. And it looks tasty. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This looks so delish! What protein would you recommend to go into this dish (if you wanted to keep it vegetarian)?

Also, how many people does this recipe serve? (sorry if I totally missed it in your post).

The Alchemist said...

shootermcnugget- It serves 4 generously.

I haven't contemplated a vegetarian protein for this dish, so I would say whatever you think sounds good. I add quite a good amount of cheese, so that's some protein there.
Feel free to experiment with the recipes. Thank you for the imput and the comment! Bon Appetit!