On a recent holiday, myself and my cycle buddy, travelled from South Tyrol, the land of Apfel Strudel and ice blue rivers, down to the sea.
At the beginning, even though we were in Italy the language spoken was German, the trees and houses were alpine and the vegetables growing were small. As we travelled down toward the sea the language was Italian, the beautiful old cities oozed history and the vegetables increased in size enormously.
Cycling is a great way to peep over fences and the vegetable gardens were a pretty picture. There were pristine rows of courgettes, peas, beans, salads and not a weed in sight – unlike our large unruly garden.
I ate this month’s dish at a trattoria in Soave. It was on the lunch menu as ‘lasagnetti di piselli’ which I thought was going to be a little lasagne with peas. I got the pea bit right but the lasagnetti was in fact freshly made ribbon pasta. Totally simple but delicious.
Now is the time to rush from the garden to the kitchen with freshly grown peas if you can find some. If you don’t have fresh peas, frozen ones are a brilliant substitute, they actually taste better than old pod peas.
As there are so few ingredients involved in making this dish the quality is very important. Buy a good brand of pasta and use a tasty extra virgin olive oil.
Peas and Tagliatelle
1 small onion
75mls extra virgin olive oil
50g butter – diced
350g podded or frozen peas
1 glass white wine or water
100g grated Parmesan or Pecorino
300g tagliatelle – or gluten free pasta
Peel and chop the onion. Heat a pan and add a little olive oil and the chopped onion. Cook on a medium heat until the onion softens then add the peas, salt and pepper and a glass of white wine or water. Cook for 5 minutes if you’re using frozen peas, 8 minutes if the peas are fresh. Puree half the peas using a stick blender or food processor then put back in the pan with the peas.
Cook the pasta in a large saucepan, with plenty of water and a big spoonful of salt, according to the instructions on the packet. Be careful not to overcook. Put a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water onto the peas then drain the pasta. I always drain my pasta over the serving bowl to heat it up, this way the past doesn’t cool too quickly, Reheat the peas, add the butter cubes and give it a swirl. Put the pasta and peas in the serving dish and toss together.
Serve with olive oil to drizzle over and plenty of grated Parmesan or pecorino.
Ready to go!