AUNT FRAN’S PASTA & PEAS
This is a nice simple little pasta dish that can be whipped up in no time flat, which my Aunt Fran often did if we stopped by for a visit at her and Uncle Tony’s house. The dish is sort of half a pasta dish and half soup, or it can be either a soup or pasta dish depending on how much liquid you use. More liquid and it’s a soup, less liquid and it’s a Pasta Dish with the peas and other vegetables and pancetta acting as a sauce. This is classic Cucina Povera, the kind of dish that Aunt Fran, my mom, aunts, and uncles grew up with. It’s a dish that is not well known outside of Italian-American households, so if you want in on a great little secret, here you go. Make it, Pasta or Soup, or both, “Mangia Bene.”
¼ cup Olive Oil
8 ounces Pancetta, diced
2 medium Onions, Peeled and diced fine
1 Carrot, Peeled and minced
4 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1 large Potato, peeled and cut to ¼” dice
3 cups water
1 Bay Leaf
½ teaspoon each of Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
2 – 10 ounce boxes of frozen Peas
12 ounce Ditalini
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
Place Pancetta and half the olive oil in a 6-quart pan and cook Pancetta on low heat for 6 minutes. Add onions and cook on low heat for 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook on low heat for 2 minutes.
Add Potato, Carrot, water, half the remaining olive oil, Salt, Black Pepper, and Bay Leaf to the pot and raise heat to high. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes on high heat.
Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to directions on package.
Put Peas in pot and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Take 1 cup of pasta cooking water and add to the pot peas.
Drain pasta in a colander, then add to pot with peas. Add half the remaining cheese and cook the past and peas on medium heat for 6 minutes.
Serve each person a bowl of Pasta & Peas and pass grated pecorino and Olive Oil to drizzle over pasta.
Excerpted from Daniel Bellino-Zwicke ‘s forthcomong book Mangia Italiano
See Daniel’s other Best Selling Cookbooks
RECIPES FROM MY SICILAIN NONNA