February 15, 2012 by A to Ziti
Sunday mornings with a cup of coffee, if there’s time before the kids’ swim lesson (“swim” in our family can be defined as “flapping arms and legs wildly, testing the lifeguard’s reflexes by letting go of the side of the pool, and laughing and giggling so loudly the entire indoor pool area can hear what one mother referred to as ‘the most contagious laughs’”), I like to sit and peruse cookbooks, gaining inspiration for meals for the upcoming week.
While I was doing this on this most recent Sunday, Sean saw a recipe for fried chicken in my new The Food52 Cookbook (a fabulous Christmas gift from this young lady) and said, “We should make fried chicken someday.” And I said, “Go get the February Bon Appetit on the nightstand. Fried Chicken is EVERYWHERE.” So, one meal for the week, fried chicken. Check. We just couldn’t resist all the images lying around the house. I forget how good fried chicken can be, especially when homemade. Definitely a once a year meal for us though, as I felt sluggish and gross immediately after consuming 3 chicken legs. I was hungry, ok?!
There were many recipes in this book that caught my eye (that Faulkernerian Family Spice Cake with Caramel Icing might be an invitation to devour a cake by myself), as I’ve got about 15 pages dog-eared, but one in particular especially stood out, for many reasons.
One, there were few ingredients, so I knew it would be perfect for a weekday night meal. Two, it involved prosciutto. This family loves all things prosciutto, pancetta, and bacon. And three, it involved freshly chopped snap peas and mint. Peas and mint! Peas and mint! I don’t know about you, but when I hear that combo, I think of spring. Spring, glorious spring!!
As I was making this dish the other night, in under 30 minutes, the house smelled of crispy prosciutto and my fingertips smelled of fresh mint; an unlikely but heavenly combination.
We sat to eat early, at about 5:30, and I noticed through the windows of our dining room that, surprisingly, it didn’t look like 10pm out there. Though the sun had already set, there was still a hint of daylight barely showcasing the city’s skyline behind the bare, swaying tree limbs. A subtle reminder at this dinnertime of ours that the days are getting longer, spring is on its way, and a difficult bedtime hour looms ahead for those giggle monkeys once it’s light out at 7pm.
Bring on the mint!
pasta with the prosciutto, snap peas, mint, and cream (page 352, The Food52 Cookbook)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 pound prosciutto, finely diced
4 small shallots, minced
salt & freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound pasta (farfalle or orrechiette) – I used whole wheat– delicious!
1/2 pound fresh whole snap peas, roughly chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the garlic for 2 to 3 minutes until just beginning to color.
Add the prosciutto and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
Add the shallots and cook for 3 to 4 minutes to soften. Season with a pinch or two of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, and add the pasta. You want to time the pasta to be finished just as the sauce is finishing so the cream doesn’t sit long.
With about 3 minutes left for the pasta, add the snap peas to the prosciutto-shallot mixture and cook for 2 minutes. You want them to retain their crunch. With 1 minute remaining, add the cream and quickly bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the cheese, stir, and reduce the heat to low.
Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce to coat. Sprinkle liberally with fresh mint and serve with black pepper and extra Parmesan.