I envy those of you who live in temperate climates. You know who you are: you planted your seeds in March and were eating garden-fresh peas in April. For me, the seemingly endless Calgary winter means that the long weekend in May is really the most appropriate time to plant my vegetable garden, unless I decide to go crazy and turn half of my garage into a greenhouse.
As it stands, my little backyard garden is just starting to produce a decent quantity of food for us. The radishes were harvested and eaten weeks ago, but the peas, beans, raspberries and herbs are all ripe and ready for consumption now. We have also started getting our weekly CSA baskets from Noble Gardens, and we’ve already seen some beautiful kale, chard, tomatoes, lettuce, squash, herbs and onions. Oh, and several bags bursting with fresh peas.
I am only a recent pea-lover. I’m still not excited about eating peas on their own, but I love tossing them into everything from risotto to soup to potato salad. There’s also something about peas fresh from the pod that is entirely different (in a very good way) from the canned or frozen variety. Pea snob? I think so.
This week, I received a towering mountain of peas from my CSA, and my garden peas were ready to be eaten, so I had to come up with something that would use them all to their full potential. Mint and peas are pretty much best friends, and bacon is always an acceptable third wheel, so I decided to throw the threesome in with some pasta and call it dinner.
It turns out my idea was not as original as I’d thought – such a classic combination has obviously been done before – so I consulted this Jamie Oliver recipe to get the technique just right.
The whole dish is insanely easy to pull together, and quick enough for a weeknight dinner: I had the entire thing prepped, cooked, plated, photographed and cleaned up in less than 1 hour. That’s the beauty of using fresh ingredients, I think. They require so little effort to turn into something delicious.
The dish is creamy and satisfying, largely due to the smoky bacon and savoury parmesan cheese, but the addition of peas, mint and lemon ensures the flavours remain bright and summery. You can use any small shape of pasta you like, and feel free to substitute whole-wheat or gluten-free pasta if you prefer. Buon appetito!
- 1 lb. small pasta (e.g. macaroni, ditalini, orechiette, mini shells etc.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 cups peas, fresh and raw (or frozen - do not thaw first)
- ¼ cup sour cream (or creme fraiche)
- ½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)
- ⅔ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Additional chopped mint and parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta in the water, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, while you prepare the sauce.
- In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped bacon and cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes (note: if your bacon is really fatty, drain some of the excess from the pan so your end result isn't greasy!). Add the peas and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the sour cream and chopped mint.
- Drain pasta in a colander, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the pan with the bacon and stir to combine. Add lemon juice. If the mixture seems dry, add a bit of the reserved cooking water to moisten it a bit. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
- Leftovers keep in the fridge for 1-2 days, and are tasty either cold or reheated.
Source: Adapted from Jamie Oliver.