Sunday, 1 December 2013

Tagliatelle with Peas and Pancetta

Pasta with butter and cheese may sound simple and plain, but it is divine when done right.  Being Southern Italian, I never really had pasta with butter growing up, it was always pasta with olive oil.  That was my sick food actually.  When I was sick, my mother gave me congee (Chinese rice porridge) and my father gave me pasta with olive oil and cheese.  Perfect for any stomach problems. 

But then I came to the UK and discovered good butter, recipes with butter, and consequently a whole new world. 

This pasta features garden peas and pancetta, but it's the butter and the parmesan that give it that depth of flavor.
I feel like the UK is defined by three soups: ham and pea, leek and potato, and lentil.   Those are the soup-of-the-days in every standard pub and cafe.  It does get a bit boring sometimes, but if you transfer those flavors to other dishes it won't be.

You can puree some of the peas to make it more sauce-like, I was going to, but I didn't want to do any more washing up.  It depends on what you're going for.  It may not be thick enough to be a sauce, if not, just add a few spoonful of it at the bottom of the plate and place the pasta tossed with peas and pancetta on top. 

Serves 4
400g tagliatelle
1 1/2 cup garden peas
2 small shallots, finely diced
1/2 cup diced pancetta
2 cups grated parmesan
100g butter
extra virgin olive oil

Fry the pancetta in a pan for a couple of minutes until cooked.  Remove the pancetta and reserve.  In the same pan, add the shallots along with half of the butter.  Fry over medium heat until translucent and softened.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil.  Add a couple of pinches of coarse salt.  Add your pasta and cook until very al dente - don't listen to the package instructions.  Drain the pasta but reserve some of the pasta water. 

Add the peas into the pan with the shallot along with the drained pasta.  Stir, add the rest of the butter, the parmesan and some pasta water.  Check seasoning, add some salt and a generous amount of pepper.  Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

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