Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fabulous Pasta!

When Spring arrives we always make our favorite dishes. We started by making Fava Bean Puree. At the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, fresh young fava bean appeared and we purchased several pounds. Favas require lots of peeling, first the bean from the large shell, then par-boiling the beans, and finally peeling the bean itself. I don’t mind sitting on the deck in the sun peeling them, but this time they sold beans that had been removed from the pods. They still have a slippery skin that easily slips off after boiling for a minute or two. Then you can start to make the puree. We simmer the beans in Olive Oil, garlic and Thyme then remove the thyme and puree. We served the puree on top of burrata cheese in a spring salad. It brought back all of the tastes of spring. We will be making this some more this spring and summer! Fava’s have a fairly long season. This recipe was modified by Cathy from the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook.

We then had a fabulous pasta that uses fresh spring peas: Orecchiette Carbonara with English Peas and Pea Shoots. This is a really good dish!

orecchiette carbonara with english peas and pea shoots
from Sunday Suppers at Lucques

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces applewood-smoked bacon, diced
6 ounces pancetta, diced
4 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 1/2 pounds orecchiette pasta
1 1/2 cups finely diced onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 cups freshly shucked peas (from 2 1/4 pounds in the pod)
3 ounces pea shoots
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spaghetti carbonara was one of the simpler dishes in my dad's weekend repertoire, and it was by far my all-time favorite thing to make with him. After chopping the bacon, snipping the parsley, and grating the cheese, my sister and I would stand back and watch the grand master perform the final act. As he whisked the eggs and tossed in the piping-hot noodles, we marveled at the transformation of our seemingly simple and innocent ingredients into a magnificent bowl of indul¬gence. It all happened in a matter of seconds; unlike his laborious stews, which took hours to make, this meal was all about instant gratification.

In the spring, I stray from tradition and add lots of sweet peas and pea shoots to Dad's original formula. The shape of orecchiette pasta suits this dish well; the "little ears" capture the sauce inside, ensuring plenty of flavor in every bite. If you can't find orecchiette, use spaghetti or penne.

NOTE: When you add the eggs, they should be warmed just enough to thicken them, so they coat the pasta. If you overcook them, the eggs will curdle and scramble. If the sauce is very soupy, then the eggs haven't cooked enough. In that case, I place the bowl of pasta directly over a very low flame, stirring or tossing for a few seconds, to cook the eggs until the sauce just thickens and coats the orecchiette. For this reason, I like to use a stainless steel bowl.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.

Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat for i minute. Swirl in the olive oil, and add the bacon and pancetta. Turn the heat down to medium-high and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon and pancetta are slightly crisped but still tender.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and 1 1/4 cup cheese together in a large stainless steel bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Drop the pasta into the rapidly boiling water.

Add the onion, garlic, and thyme to the bacon, and cook about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. Just before the pasta is ready, stir in the peas, coating them well with the onion and bacon.

As the pasta cooks, measure out and reserve about a cup of the hot pasta water. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and immediately add it to the bacon mixture, with i teaspoon salt, tossing well. Grind lots of black pepper into the pot, and cook i to 2 minutes more, stirring well to incorporate. Add the orecchiette to the eggs, stirring vigorously to "cook" the eggs and coat the pasta in the egg "sauce" (see note). Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little of the reserved pasta water. Toss in the pea shoots and parsley, and transfer to a warm shallow bowl. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese over the top.

1 comment:

Courtney said...

So your DAD was a great cook too? I didn't know that. Loved what you wrote. I feel like I was there to enjoy the entire dinner. CFT