Last Sunday, rather than going to my local little farmers' market at Melrose Place, Mark, Annie and myself decided to head up to one in Hollywood. It's much bigger and a lot busier. Lots of strollers and hipsters as far the the eye can see. We overheard a fashionably tattooed and disheveled couple chatting up one of the merchants to see if he could "hook us up with some morels." Ah, Hollywood. I kept an eye out for ramps and green garlic, although not really knowing what they look like, I didn't find any. After chowing down on gourmet tamales, Annie wound up with a couple pots of herbs for her little garden, Mark got some hand-made garlic cheddar and I came home with a bag of shucked fresh peas.
And what to do with said peas? Well peas love mint and peas love bacon. The last couple times I've done anything with peas I've gone in the mint directions so this time I wanted to pork it up. I found a couple recipes for peas with pancetta and shallots that I'm sure would taste great, but peas as a side dish just felt a little convential. Then I remembered this recipe. It was the one from Sunday Suppers at Lucques (here I go again) that Suzanne Goin made at her presentation at the LA Times Festival ofr Books. It's a pretty standard version of a carbonara, but the addition of peas as well as pea shoots, freshens it up.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces applewood-smoked bacon, diced
6 ounces pancetta, diced
4 extra-large eggs
4 extra-large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 1/2 pounds orecchiette pasta (I only used 1 pound)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 cups freshly shucked peas
3 ounces pea shoots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Although Suzanne's recipes does not say to do it, I blanched my peas first. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with water and adding a handful of ice cubes. Once the pot has come to a boil, add the peas and stir constantly until they've turned a vibrant green. Stir anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 mintues, occasionally tasting them while they blanche to see if they still taste too raw. When the peas are blanched, strain them out and immediatley add them to the ice bath to stop the cooking. After several minutes in the ice bath, drain in a colander.
Next, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
Heat a large sauce pan over high heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the olive oil and then add the bacon and pancettta. Turn the heat down to medium-high and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon and pancetta are slightly crisp but still tender.
Meanwhile, in a bowl large enough to hold all the pasta, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and 1 1/4 cup of the cheese together. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Drop the pasta in the boiling water.
Add the chopped onion, garlic, and thyme to the bacon and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent.
Just before the pasta is ready, add the peas, coating them well with the onion and bacon.
As the pasta cooks, measure out and reserve about 1 cup of the hot pasta water.
When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the bacon mixture, along with 1 teaspoon of salt, tossing well. Grind in lots of black pepper and cook for 1 to 2 mintues more, stirring well to incorporate.
Add the orecchiette, bacon, pea mixture to the eggs, stirring vigorously to so the hot pasta and bacon-onion mixture heats the eggs, basically cooking them.
The eggs should be warmed just enough to thicken then so they coat the pasta. If the mixture seems to thick, add a little of the reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss in the pea shoots and the parsley and serve sprinkled with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.
Bacon, eggs, yolks, cheese and pasta. Need I say more? The eggs cook into a sauce that tastes like velevet. The little orecchiette are perfect for this dish. Each "ear" ends ups gently cupping a bright, fresh pea or a smokey bit of bacon. The peas and especially the pea shoots actually add a very nice gardeny crispness and cuts through the richness. Mark and I devoured it sitting on the floor at my coffee table while watching an old Bette Davis movie. What a decadent treat.
Using 1 1/2 pounds of pasta, you could serve 6. Using 1 pound of pasta you could serve 4 generously.