Friday, July 18, 2008

Pasta With Leeks, Peas and Pecorino

This recipe came to me via my friend Leen, a fellow vegetarian Mom from Seattle who responded to my request for something yummy to do with fresh peas. It's originally from Real Simple.
It’s a pretty straight-forward and simple recipe, perfect for a busy weekday night. The hardest part is shelling the peas, which I gather some people actively dislike doing but I don't really mind. I substituted light cream for the heavy cream because using heavy cream in cooking anything other than desserts kinds of squicks me out (note to self: maybe this is why no one seems to like my Alfredo sauce?) and I underestimated the amount of peas I would need grabbing them by the handfuls at the Farmer’s Market. It’s a nice find too, if, like me, you always see certain things at the Farmer’s Market but don’t know what you would do with them. I feel that way about leeks and peas, (and, now that I think about it, mint).
My husband especially loved this dish. He felt since we both cook so many vegetarian pasta dishes that it’s great to have something for dinner with a whole other set of flavors than the normal tomato-eggplant-mushroom triumvirate.

1 pound dry pasta
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves torn
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 leeks, white and like green parts only, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic (on the suggestion of my friend, I doubled the garlic to four cloves -- do it unless you loathe garlic)
2 lbs fresh peas (two cups shelled)
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used light cream)
1 cup grated pecorino
2 teaspoons lemon zest (being fresh out of zest, I used a tablespoon of lemon juice added at the end instead)

Cook the pasta as normal.
Heat the oil, and add the leeks with the salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about five to seven minutes. Add the garlic and peas and cook for two more minutes. Add the cream and 3/4 cup of the cheese. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about four minutes.
Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce, mint and lemon zest (or in my case, juice). Top with the rest of the cheese.

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