This is one of my mother’s very favorite recipe for pasta and I make this for her often. She loves the delicate cream sauce and garden fresh peas. I prepare this recipe using “fresh” Spaghetti I purchase from the grocery store. Most markets carry fresh pasta and you can find them in the refrigerated section. I highly recommend you give the fresh pasta a try. You can use dried pasta if you are unable to find fresh such as penne, linguine or farfalle, just make sure it is made with semolina flour. I use low-fat milk instead of whole milk or heavy cream for the sauce. It comes out rich smooth and creamy but with half the calories and fat. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese is a must with this recipe, it helps to thicken the cream sauce and adds the perfect finishing touch!
2 cups of fresh peas
3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 ounces 1/4″ thick pancetta, diced into small cubes
2 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
8 ounces fresh spaghetti or linguine pasta
1 cup of low-fat milk, chill taken off
1-1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for sprinkling
30 small fresh mint leaves, for garnish
To Prepare the fresh peas, remove the peas from their pods and set aside.
In a cold, large, heavy skillet pour the olive oil and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the pancetta, and cook over medium heat until the pancetta is crisp. Remove the pancetta and set aside.
Add the shallot to the pan, and saute until crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.
Cook the pasta according to package directions (remember to salt the pasta water-1-tablespoon of table salt per 3 quarts of water). Three minutes before the pasta is ready, add the peas. Right before you drain the pasta and peas, remove 3 cups of the pasta water and set aside.
Drain the pasta, giving it one to two good shakes but don’t shake all the water out. Pour the pasta into the pan with the pancetta and shallot. Over high heat, add 1/2 cup pasta water, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and mix gently but thoroughly until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the remainder of the milk and parmesan cheese, and keep mixing until the sauce gets thicker. If it looks too thick or gooey, add more pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, to maintain a creamy consistency. Top with more grated Parmesan cheese, and garnish with 4 to 5 mint leaves per serving.
Photo’s Diane Cu & Todd Porter www.whiteonricecouple
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