Times like these call for desperate measures … cooking from scratch and gulp, improvising! using what’s been sitting in your pantry or refrigerator for weeks or months (years?) and not going to the grocery store every other day. Everytime I come across a fussy recipe, I remember, Italian grandmothers did this 100 years ago with whatever they found at the market in season, what they had preserved, and the simple staples in their lardor.
Italians are famous for making a delicious meal from the simplest ingredients. This recipe is a combo of two – Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is a simple Italian dish of garlic, olive oil, parsley, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese tossed with cooked pasta and Spaghetti al Limone is with butter, cream and lemon zest.
This recipe reminds me of spring and Easter, even though fresh peas are a long way out.
LEMONY PASTA WITH PEAS, PARMESAN & PROSCIUTTO
1 lemon, zested
1 stick of butter (½ cup)
4 oz prosciutto – torn into long strips
1 ½ cups, frozen peas
16 oz pasta – any kind of spaghetti or bow ties work well too
1 cup Parmesan, finely grated
fresh ground pepper
16 sage leaves (optional, if you’re lucky enough to have it)
Boil a large pot of water and salt liberally. Add pasta and stir occasionally, adding peas to the pasta water 2 minutes before the pasta is al-dente. Drain pasta but reserve at least 1 ½ cups of pasta water.
While the pasta cooks,, heat butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat until frothy. Add the torn prosciutto strips and add to the pot along with the sage leaves if you have them. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to crisp – 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the pasta, peas, ¾ cup of the Parmesan, lemon zest, and 1 cup of the hot pasta cooking liquid to the hot pan with the prosciutto and return to medium heat. Toss and cook the pasta, adding more cooking liquid if needed, until saucy and well coated. Taste. If you like more lemon flavor, squeeze ½ of the lemon in here now, add salt if needed, and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.
Divide pasta among bowls and top with more Parmesan.