On Pasta

A few months ago, this Bon Appetit article changed my life.  It has great tips on creating silky pan sauces without a recipe.  The secret ingredient?  Pasta water.  Below is a written recipe for the directionally inclined.  The prosciutto is optional if you want to make this vegetarian.  Other great “protein” options include seared scallops, pancetta, and good ol’ fashioned bacon.  Peas and mint too trendy for you?  Create your own veggie combo and feel like a genius!

Step 2: Fresh Pasta!

Step 6: Add the peas.

Step 8: Toss in the pasta.

Step 9: Add butter and cheese, then mix in.

Step 10: Cheese?  What cheese?  Just fresh herbs here!


Pasta, peas!

For Prep:

  • One glass wine (your preference)
For Pasta:
  • 1 healthy handful of Kosher Salt
  • Water
  • ~12 oz Fresh Fettuccine (If you’re not a snob like I am, boxed pasta is ok too.)
For Sauce:
  • Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Shallots, chopped
  •  4 ounces peas
  • 1/2 – 1 cup pasta water
  • 3 TBSP grated Parmesan Reggiano
  • 3 TBSP grated Pecorino Romano
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2-4 ounces Prosciutto, depending on your cholesterol level, cubed
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

1) Pour yourself a glass of vino (It’s actually illegal to prepare pasta without drinking wine in 7 states.)

2) Dump the Kosher salt into a pot of water and bring to a boil.

3) Add the pasta and cook until 2 minutes before al dente (Italian for “to the tooth,” or done.)  For fresh pasta, this is only 2 minutes!

4) Reserve ~1 cup of pasta water, then strain out the rest.  Set pasta aside for later.

5) Coat the bottom of a 10 or 12 inch skillet in olive oil.  Saute garlic and shallots on medium heat for 2 minutes.

6) Add the peas.  Saute for another 2 minutes.

tip: If you can’t find fresh peas, frozen is fine.  Just defrost them in cold water for a few minutes before cooking.

7) Pour 1/2 cup of the pasta water into the pan and simmer for 3-5 minutes to create a pan sauce.  The water should reduce by about half.  Add the prosciutto for the last minute of cooking.

time-saving tip: Some grocery stores sell pre-cubed prosciutto.  I tried it for the first time today.  It was good, but I prefer getting it thick sliced from the butcher and cutting it myself.

8) Add the pasta to the pan and toss with tongs to coat.  Cook for 2 minutes over medium-high high heat until al dente.

9)  Remove from heat and toss in cheese and butter until it’s awesomely melty.

10) Toss in the mint.

11) Serve!  Be sure to put lots of goodies in every bowl, and make it pretty by twirling the pasta with your tongs.  If you have guests, allow them to do their own salt and pepper.

12) Make it a meal with salad and lots of crusty bread!

Serves four girlfriends, or you, a very hungry manfriend, and leftovers for lunch!

Final tips: If eye-balling doesn’t scare you, feel free to adjust according to your tastes.  If you find Romano cheese to be too strong, go ahead and just use Parmesan.  And if you’re trying to be healthy, use whole wheat pasta and reduce the cheese by 2 tbsp.

What are your favorite pasta tips?

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2 thoughts on “On Pasta

  1. Sooo can the next party be at your house? :}

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