Spring is a very lively time of the year for Mother Nature. Foodies have a lot to look forward to during this rejuvenating season. The transition from winter to spring is somewhat magical! You can tap into this enlivening process by making positive changes in your diet. Repetitive foods of wintertime should now be gone with the wind (and snow!) as we welcome in the much-anticipated return of spring with all its glorious perfection.
Last week, I ventured out on what was the first real spring day, to a wonderful store called World Market. I had never shopped there before, but what a surprise! World Market has much more than I had ever anticipated. Besides all the fabulous household items and gadgets, they have a very interesting assortment of foods. The imported pastas from Italy caught my eye and I bought two colorful packages of Torino Pasta Mista.
The varicolored pasta, along with their many fun shapes, inspired me to cook a light, yet very tasty pasta dish using spring peas, pancetta, sweet onion, fresh mint, lemon zest, white wine vinegar, vegetable stock, a little Pecorino Romano cheese and garnished with an edible flower. Simply delicious!
And, to add a little excitement, I broadcasted the making of this recipe live on my first Meerkat video! This is one of the newest and hottest social media sensations.
I now encourage you to fill your pantry full of springtime goodness and enjoy the recipe below!
Franco’s Spring Pea and Pancetta Pasta Mista
- 1 box (8.8 ounces) Torino Pasta Mista
- 8 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1/2 large sweet onion, sliced in half moon shapes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups fresh spring peas
- 2-3 cups vegetable stock (recipe follows)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup small diced Parmesan
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 lemon, zested
- 5-6 large mint leaves, chiffonade
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add pasta and cook until just al dente.
Tip: Once you add the pasta to the water bring it to a medium to low boil which will help keep the integrity of the pasta shapes intact. A vigorous boil will break up the delicate shapes.
- Cook the pasta for 8 minutes, or just before al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. You will finish cooking it in the sauté pan.
- While the pasta is cooking, sauté pancetta in a large pan over medium heat. Slowly render out the fat for about 6 minutes.
- Add the olive oil and onions and toss.
- Sauté onions 2-3 minutes add 3 tablespoons of vegetable stock to the sauté pan, reduce the heat to a moderate flame and cook covered for about 5 minutes. Or until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the pasta and the vegetable stock to the pan and cook for 3 minutes more tossing gently. Stir in the grated Parmesan, to create a sauce with the stock.
Tip: This pan sauce should just be enough to lightly coat the pasta.
- Once a quick sauce is created, add the peas, lemon zest, diced Parmesan, mint and vinegar. Gently toss through. The residual heat will cook the peas and they will remain a vibrant green.
- Moisten pasta with some of the reserved pasta water or more stock, if needed.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Keeping in the spirit of spring garnish all with a mint pluche and an edible flower. The flower I chose was a mini Carnation.
- Serve immediately.
Quick Vegetable Stock
- 1 large onion
- 2 stalks celery, including some leaves
- 2 large carrots (peeled, chopped)
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 sprigs fresh parsley
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 2 quarts water (cold)
Tip: When making a quick vegetable stock I do not cook off the vegetables first before covering with water. Pure and clean flavors with no added oil to the broth is the goal here.
Rinse clean all vegetables and remove any bruised areas.
- Add onion, celery, carrots, scallions, garlic, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves to a medium stock pot.
- Add the water and bring to a slow boil.
- Once a boil is reached lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes.
- Strain and discard the vegetables.