A Serendipitous Spring Pasta Dish

Pappardelle, Peas, Pea Shoots, Serano 1 3648x2736This past week my friend and longtime assistant, Emily Bell, traveled to New England from Ohio for a week of marathon cooking with me, testing recipes for a new cookbook.
Each day we made our way to the supermarket to purchase groceries, carefully checking off the items on our list. On one such visit to the local Whole Foods, we noticed some gorgeous pea shoots, and then spotted some shelled peas in the produce section. Both were so appealing and such great harbingers of spring that we put them in the cart.Serrano Ham and Snow Pea Shoots from Whole F 1 3431x2298 A few aisles away we found packages of sliced Serrano, Spain’s contribution to the world’s ham repertoire.Those three discoveries sparked an idea for a delicious pasta dish.

We cooked pappardelle al dente, adding the fresh peas during the last few minutes so that both finished cooking at the same time. Melted butter, fresh lemon zest, and crème fraîche were then stirred into the pasta along with a little Parmesan cheese. Oh, and the Serrano ham– we julienned the slices and quickly sautéed them to use as a garnish.

This pasta entrée, which takes about a half hour from start to finish, is simplicity itself to prepare, but looks as if it requires far more effort to assemble. I am definitely making this “spur of the moment” dish again. Add a salad of mixed greens and sliced radishes tossed in lemon juice and olive oil plus a loaf of warm crusty bread for a great menu to serve family or friends this spring!


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Pappardelle with Peas, Serrano Ham, and Parmigiano

2 tbsp olive oil
3 to 4 ounces thinly sliced Serrano ham, cut into strips 1/4 inch wide by 2 to 3 inches (You can substitute prosciutto if Serrano is not available.)
1 pound pappardelle or fettuccine
Kosher salt
1/2 pound fresh shelled peas (1 1/2 cups)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp grated lemon zest
1 cup crème fraîche at room temperature (See note.)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano plus a few shavings for the garnish
1 ounce fresh snow pea shoots or substitute watercress, trimmed (You’ll need a good handful.)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the Serrano strips and cook, stirring, until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the pasta and 2 tablespoons salt. Cook until pasta is al dente or just tender, according to package directions. (Count on 3 to 5 minutes for fresh pasta and closer to 12 for dried.) Add the peas during the last 3 minutes of the cooking time for the pasta. Drain pasta and peas well and return to the pot in which they were cooked.

3 Stir the lemon zest into the melted butter and pour over the pasta, tossing to mix well. Add the crème fraîche, grated Parmesan, and half of the pea shoots. Toss well to combine. Season pasta with salt as needed.

4.To serve, mound some pasta in each of 4 shallow bowls. Top each serving with sautéed Serrano, some shaved Parmesan, and a few of the pea shoots. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Note: If you want to make your creme fraîche, the following recipe works well.
Homemade Crème Fraîche
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sour cream

1. Whisk cream and sour cream together in a medium non-reactive bowl. Let stand at room temperature until thickened, for 6 hours or longer. Cover and refrigerate. (Crème fraîche can be stored up to 1 week, covered, in refrigerator.) Makes about 1 1/3 cups.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2015

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