Thursday, June 03, 2010

Handmade Pasta with Pancetta and Sugar Snap Peas

The green market still has slim pickings this early in the season, but luckily for me they are all pickings that I like. After the asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries, sugar snap peas have their brief time to shine. They first showed up last Wednesday, and I expect they'll be around maybe one or two more weeks if I'm lucky. They are sweet and crisp and tender, and I love that you can eat the whole thing, pod and all.

The first thing I do with them is cut them in half and throw them in a salad. Then I cook them up with pasta, like I did here.

I used a batch of handmade pasta for this dish. It's easy enough to throw together a batch, and if I'm not ready to use it when I make it I can put it in the refrigerator for up to two days before I need to use it.

But if you don't feel like making it yourself, dried pasta works just as well for this.
makes 4 servings

1 batch handmade pasta, or 12-oz package fettucini
1/4 lb thick sliced pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch wide strips, then crosscut into 1-inch strips
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 pint sugar snap peas, trimmed
3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil on the stove. While the pasta water is heating, prepare the sauce.

Place pancetta in a single layer in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little oil if necessary. Cook the pancetta until it is crispy. Remove it from the pan and place it on a paper-towel lined plate. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.

Lower heat to medium and add garlic. Saute until just turning brown. Add the broth and the cream, scraping the pancetta fond from the bottom of the skillet. Add the thyme. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the sauce has reduced by half.

At this point cook the pasta. If using dried pasta, cook the pasta about 2 minutes short of the time on the package directions and add the sugar snap peas to the sauce about 2 minutes before the pasta is done. If using fresh pasta, add the sugar snap peas to the sauce when you put the pasta in the pot to cook for 2 minutes.

Reserve half a cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Add the cheese the the pancetta and mix well. If the dish is too runny, turn the heat on high long enough to evaporate some of the sauce. If it is too thick, add the pasta water a little at a time.

Serve immediately, with extra grated cheese on the side.

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