My history with this pasta has already been well documented in the blogosphere—needless to say, I believe it to be worth a tiny bit of Internet stalking.
Yes, it’s January, and therefore about five months early for peas. But here I’ll make a brief exception to the “for every food, there is a season” mandate and say that, yes, while this dish would be incalculably improved with the addition of freshly picked and shucked peas, the experience of petrous, starchy, many-days-past-their-prime peas in June has taught me to appreciate the art of flash freezing. In other words, I eat frozen peas sometimes. Not often. Please don’t judge me.
Fettuccine with Peas and Parmesan
Adapted from Mario Batali via The Wednesday Chef
If you can get past the seasonal dissonance, I promise this pasta will bring a bit of springtime into your cold, daylight-deprived kitchens. New Yorkers can try the original version at Pó restaurant, where its made with homemade pappardelle (and where I first fell in love with it).
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon wildflower honey
3 cups shucked peas (fresh or frozen)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound dried fettuccine or fresh pappardelle
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves, torn in half
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat until it is just smoking. Add the onion, honey, and 2 cups of the peas, and sauté until softened and cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes. Place peas in a food processor and pulse until coarsely pureed. Season generously with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta.
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the remaining peas, and cook slowly until just softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the pea puree to the whole peas and keep warm. Just before the pasta is done, pour a ladle of the cooking water into the pan with the pea puree and stir to loosen the sauce.
Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water. Immediately toss the pasta into the pan with the pea mixture. Stir gently to mix well, adding more pasta water if necessary. Add the cheese and fresh mint, and toss to combine. Serve immediately in heated bowls.