Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mini Shell Pasta with Smoked Bacon and Peas

We've passed the middle of winter and fresh, local food is becoming thin on the ground. (Ok, I did manage to buy onions and turnips and cabbage and sweet potatoes and honey at the farmer's market the other day - I even passed on the apples and kale - so we haven't hit rock bottom just yet.) Still, it's time to start feeding ourselves from our own larder.

If you look back at my October canning round-up, you can see some of the food Jeff and I managed to put up this year. We also have a freezer stocked with asparagus, edamame, frozen greens, pumpkin puree, roasted peppers, oven-dried tomatoes, and other goodies. We're starting to arrange our menus around these items, trying to enjoy the bounty we worked hard to preserve. This recipe used up our frozen peas and a few handfuls of leftover baby spinach. Frozen greens would work really nicely in here, too - I just had some fresh stuff on hand that needed a job.

This is a great dinner for a weeknight because it came together so quickly and effortlessly. I was shocked at how little work went into it - the ingredients were prepped and my kitchen was cleaned up in no time at all. It's not the healthiest dish, but it's hearty and satisfying - and what is life without a creamy bacon sauce once in awhile?

Mini Shell Pasta with a Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce
Slightly adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution.

3 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 lb mini shell pasta
1 tbsp olive oil (optional)
2 c frozen peas
1 c baby spinach (or 1/2 c frozen greens)
2 tbsp creme fraiche
1/2 lemon
6 oz Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Heat a large, high-sided pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Add the peas and cook a minute or two, until heated through.

 Add the spinach and stir until slightly wilted. Add the creme fraiche, stirring well, then add salt and pepper to taste. 

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 c of the cooking water. Return the pasta to its pot, then pour the bacon mixture over it, stirring well to coat the pasta in the sauce. If the sauce needs to be thinned out, add some of the pasta water. When the pasta is coated, squeeze the lemon half onto it and sprinkle with Parmesan. Toss well to combine and serve.

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