Now that fresh herbs are coming up in our gardens, it’s a great time to find new ways to incorporate them into our cooking. The classic combination of peas and mint is a perfect way to pump up the flavour of a simple pasta dish. Thanks to the nifty trick of using goat’s milk cheese and hot pasta cooking water to make a creamy sauce, this meal is a snap to pull together.
- 3 cups (750 mL) orecchiette or small pasta shells
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) bacon or pancetta, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup (250 mL) fresh or frozen peas, thawed
- 2/3 cup (160 mL) crumbled chèvre
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh mint (or a combination of mint and chives)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) grated Parmesan, to garnish (optional)
- Bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a boil.
- While water heats, heat a large, deep skillet or pot (large enough to hold the cooked pasta and sauce ingredients) over medium heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until softened (about 1 minute). Add the peas and toss gently to combine. Remove from heat and let sit until pasta is cooked.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente (timing will depend upon what pasta you use). When pasta is cooked, scoop out 1 cup (250 mL) of the cooking water then drain the noodles.
- Add the drained pasta and chèvre to the large skillet containing the bacon, garlic and peas. Pour reserved cooking water over top and season liberally with black pepper.
- Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the fresh herbs and serve immediately, with grated Parmesan on top, if desired.