I love peas. I love them in pasta with bacon, with eggs and asparagus — everywhere really — but I have to admit that I’ve almost always used frozen ones. Until now. This year we decided to plant Little Marvels and and they’re so much better than I ever imagined. It’s been the nicest surprise.
Fresh, raw peas taste completely different from any I’ve had before: Sweet, crunchy, sunny and slightly grassy. And they are beautiful. The plant grows long with curly tendrils, the flowers are sweet and old-fashioned. The pods are the most beautiful shades of clear, slightly translucent grass and spring green.
I don’t know why I waited so long to grow them — maybe because I didn’t expect them to be much different from the frozen kind. Anyway, they’ll be in the garden every year from now on. We planted more than a dozen, but I don’t think that was enough.
Initially, I didn’t intend to write recipes here, but I love to cook, and this is a delicious way to use peas. It’s fast, easy and completely adjustable to your own taste. Add more or less of anything. it’s also good with asparagus, instead of peas.
Pasta with Peas & Bacon — For Two
4-6 ounces of pasta — I like shells because the peas get caught inside — or your favorite shape
5-6 thick slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
A small onion, cut into thin half moon slices (or a couple of green onions)
A couple handfuls of peas
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano — or more, to taste
Salt and pepper — but be careful with the salt — the pecorino and bacon are probably salty enough
A couple big splashes of cream or half and half (optional — it’s just as good without it)
1/2 cup reserved cooking water from the pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a big, fat pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook 1-2 minutes short of the package directions. Before draining the pasta, Save about a half cup of the cooking water to use later.
While the pasta cooks, fry your bacon. Just as it starts to brown, add the onions and cook them together, until the bacon is crisp on the edges, but not blasted into dryness, and the onions are soft. Add a few good grindings of pepper. All of this should take just about as long as the pasta will take to cook. Drain off any fat in excess of a tablespoon or two.
Toss in the peas and stir for a minute or two. Add the pasta, the cream (or half and half) and cook for a minute or two more, adding a little of the pasta water to loosen the sauce if necessary. Test the pasta for seasoning and doneness, and tip it all into a large bowl. Toss in the pecorino romano, taste again for seasoning. Serve with a salad of tomatoes or green leaves or both.