Monday, June 6, 2011

Peas, Please - Pasta alla Carbonara alla Primivera

I am confident that there is no better way to spend a warm, breezy Saturday morning than trolling the farmers market, tasting goodies and planning a meal.

I woke up in the District of Columbia. It was sunny and inviting outside my hotel room windows. I put on a sun dress and went over to the 14th and Ust Farmers Market, bright and earlyish, at 9:15am.

There were apples as always, and colorful bouquets of lazy spring flowers.

Photo by Chris Rausch 

Photo by Chris Rausch

The fresh English Peas conjured up images of my version of Pasta Carbonara. True, authentic Carbonara doesn't have any peas in it, but its a rich dish, so I use the peas to brighten it up and add a bit of crunch.

Photo by Robin R.

My real spark of ignition came when we checked out North Mountain Pastures farm, located in Newport, Pennsylvania. They raise cows, turkey, lamb, sheep, pig, and chicken for slaughter and offer cured meats and cheese, and even wool from their own animals. They had samples of their homemade prosciutto out for tasting and a display of other cured meats I had never heard of. I picked up a package of the Tesa, an italian bacon come pastrami, cured with red wine, and organic herbs and spices including garlic, allspice, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg. I asked the proprietor how she prefers to enjoy such a wonderful product and without hesitation she replied "Pasta Carbonara". Obviously it was fate.

When we got home I got to work in the kitchen browning all the beautiful strips of pork. I flash blanched the peas, grated some fresh parmigiano reggiano, fresh cracked black pepper, a couple of farm fresh eggs, and stirred it in a tizzy. All the while pretending to be Nigella Lawson.

Photo by Robin R.

2 Fresh Eggs
1/2 cup finely grated fresh parmigiano reggiano
1/4 cup loosely packed cooked and crumbled tesa, or bacon 
1/4 cup fresh blanched peas
1/2 tbsp Fresh cracked pepper
salt to taste

This is one of my favorite recipes because you only need 1 pot and 1 pan. I start by getting my bacon cooked and onto towels to drain. Then I get my pasta water going and as soon as it's ready I throw in my peas, pull them and dunk them in ice water in your sink and let them sit on the side. Get your pasta in the water and grate your cheese. Then stir the cheese into the whisked eggs, add pepper, and salt as desired. When the pasta is ready I pull it directly from the water and stir it into the eggs as fast as possible. This prevents the eggs from curdling. Throw in the peas and bacon and serve.  

Photo by Robin R.

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