nigel slater's peas, pasta, and parmesan
ATTENTION: Nigel Slater has a new cookbook. Greenfeast: Spring, Summer, a joyous little book in bright pink and shimmering gold, delivers simple, plant-based, seasonal recipes. Although not strictly vegetarian, the book is centered on peak spring and summer produce; a second volume for fall and winter will be published in October. Nigel is simply a genius with fruits and vegetables, and so far this new book is everything I hoped it would be.
With only five (!) ingredients, this speedy pasta dish is no exception. I’ve already made it multiple times and still can’t get over how fast and tasty it is. The flavors, as Nigel says, are quiet but balanced. The fresh cheese is cool and tangy atop the sweet, delicate peas which are cooked quickly and pureed in their own stock liquor. Bonus: this recipe works just as well with frozen peas (sans fresh peas for garnish), which some argue are even better than fresh. That makes this a lightning pantry dish, especially for those late spring and early summer meals when you want something green and light, easy and comforting.
Note: Greenfeast is not yet available in the U.S.; I got my copy from Book Depository which offers free shipping to the U.S. (For my U.K. books, I prefer the original editions anyway since they tend to have fewer mistakes and prettier covers. Just make sure you own a kitchen scale for measurement conversion.)
Nigel Slater’s Pea, Pasta, and Parmesan
Slightly adapted from Greenfeast: Spring, Summer by Nigel Slater.
The original recipe calls for pappardelle, but any pasta will work. Nigel uses vegetable stock, but I substituted chicken stock. I also added some extra shaved parmesan at the end. I’ve included those allowances below, as well as adding U.S. measurements to the original recipe.
2 1/2 cups (600ml) vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups (300g) peas (shelled weight)
10.6 ounces (300g) pappardelle or other pasta
1/4 cup (25g) Parmesan, grated, plus more for finishing if desired
7 ounces (200g) fresh young sheep’s or goat’s cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the stock on to boil. (You can use water instead of stock in a pinch.) Reserve a handful of raw peas and cook the rest in the boiling stock for 5-7 minutes, depending on their size (cook 4-5 minutes if using frozen peas). While the peas cook, boil the pasta in generously salted water until just al dente according to package directions.
Put the peas and 1/2 cup (150ml) of their cooking liquor into a blender and process until smooth, introducing more stock as necessary to produce a thin, brightly flavored sauce. Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Pour in the pea sauce, scatter with the Parmesan and fold in. Add more stock if sauce isn’t saucy enough; taste and add salt until delicious. Divide between two deep plates.
Break the sheep’s cheese into large pieces, scatter over the pasta with the reserved raw peas, more parmesan and black pepper if desired, and serve.