Monday, December 4, 2006

"Cucina Siciliana" - Spaghetti with peas, pancetta & mint

Date I made the recipe: August 6, 2006

Cucina Siciliana – by Clarissa Hyman
Published by Interlink Books
ISBN: 1-56656-433-6
© 2002

Recipe: Spaghetti with peas, pancetta & mint – p. 130

Of all the Italian and Sicilians cook books I have in my collection, don’t ask me why I started with a book written by (and I may be wrong about this) a non-Sicilian, but the pasta dish that I cooked touched on my need for a light, summer, pasta. When I want heavy-duty winter comfort food, I go for my family recipes but we’re months away from winter time…well, this being Minnesota, land of 2 seasons – “summer” (a term I use loosely for any time period where the temperature is not sub-zero) and winter (the remaining portion of the year) - you never know. What I do know is that most of my friends have an ice scrapper laying around the car floor year round just in case.

This recipe was pretty easy and straightforward. The only thing I would do differently is to cook the peas and pancetta separately instead of cooking them together as directed. The instructions said to cook them together until the pancetta became crispy but what resulted was crispy peas and crispy pancetta. For fans of crispy peas, follow the recipe but for those who love mushy peas (with mashed potatoes – yum), follow your instincts.

Note: This recipe serves 2

Spaghetti with peas, pancetta & mint
½ lb. spaghetti
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
¾ c. peas, defrosted if frozen
2 oz, pancetta, cubed
4 T chopped fresh mint
4 T grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, or mollica (toasted breadcrumbs).

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the whole garlic cloves and remove when toasty-brown on both sides. Ann’s notes: My aunt Rose gave me a valuable piece of advice years ago that I stick to – don’t burn the garlic. If you do, it will make your sauce bitter. Because this recipe calls for you to remove the garlic cloves when brown (which I think is a great way to flavor the food without leaving the whole thing in the dish), you’ll likely avoid that problem but keep an eye on the cloves anyway.

Add the pancetta, fry for a few minutes and then add the peas (or, as noted above, wait to add the peas until the last minute). Add black pepper (or peperoncino) and fry gently for several minutes until the pasta is ready.

Once the pasta is done and your pancetta is crispy, mix them together with the mint and then add the cheese.

Eat and enjoy!

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