The picture doesn't do it justice at all (where's the bacon?), but this is easily my favorite pasta dish. I remember making if for the first time when I first moved to L.A. and after a rather trying day that probably involved one of many plumbing disasters that plagued me when I first got here, it was infinitely comforting. I prefer my pasta more "bitty" than "saucy" and nothing disappoints me more than perfectly cooked pasta destroyed with too much sauce soaking it. If you like your pasta like I do, with a sauce made more from reserved starchy pasta water than anything else, this recipe is perfect. I mean come on, bacon, peas, parmesan goat cheese and a healthy grind of black pepper? How could you go wrong?
The next day at work I got an email from David with the subject line "Cheese" (Does the man know how to get my attention or what?) Someone at work had asked which kind I'd used in this dish. To which I replied, "Stop sharing your damn food." I'm pretty sure he's NOT sharing his food, but I would love to be a fly on the wall when he trots out his leftovers every day, and tries to explain the concoctions. This one's aroma was a big hit apparently, but I wonder about that Eggplant Curry from a few days ago. Oh well, at least I never send him off with a tupperware of fish.
Pasta with Peas and Pancetta
(From: Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen)
1/2 pound spaghetti
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces pancetta or thick-cut bacon, diced
1 onion, minced
1 bay leaf
1 cup sweet peas, frozen or fresh
1 ounce goat cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, hand-torn
1. In a large stockpot, cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes; it should still be a little firm.
2. At the same time, heat a 2-count drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta, and stir it around. When the fat starts to render, after about 3 minutes, add the onion and bay leaf. Cook and stir until the onion caramelizes, about 10 minutes. Now add the peas and cook for 2 minutes just to heat them through.
3. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the starchy water for the sauce. Fold the goat cheese into the hot pasta and give it a toss so it melts. Scrape the pancetta, onions, and peas into the pasta pot (toss the bay leaf). Add the Parmigiano, parsley, and lemon juice. Slowly pour in the reserved pasta water to dissolve the cheese and thin it out to a sauce consistency. Hit it with a healthy dose of olive oil and quite a few turns of freshly ground black pepper to give it bite. Return the noodles to the pot and gently toss to coat in the sauce. Split the pasta between 2 large bowls and shower it with the shredded basil.