James Beard’s Pleasant Pasta

by Hilary Gauntt on June 16, 2017

This apparently was one of the great man’s favorites, who described it as “amusing looking, delicious tasting, and a worthy pasta.” The fact that it’s easy and quick to prepare doesn’t hurt either.

This was a big hit in my house, and with the rest of the bag of frozen petit peas waiting in my freezer I will be making this again soon, no doubt! A bit like a Carbonara, especially if you are like me and choose to crisp up the chopped prosciutto for a few minutes in a separate skillet. Not at all necessary; I just like the crunch.

This does seem a rich dish, but these are moderate amounts of cream and butter. Use half and half or even whole milk if you like. Because I can’t help myself, I did saute a clove of minced garlic in the butter melted in the pan before adding back the pasta and the rest of the ingredients. People will thank you for this, as it’s considerably more than just a “pleasant” pasta dish!

Salt

1 pound spaghetti (I used thin linguine)

1 10-ounce package frozen peas

4 Tbs. butter

1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, rolled up and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips

2/3 cup heavy cream

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 to 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese;more as needed

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until just tender. While the pasta cooks, combine peas and I cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and stir until peas are thoroughly heated. Drain and set aside.

Drain pasta, return to pot and toss with butter. Add peas, prosciutto, and cream. Toss to mix well and to separate prosciutto strips. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add Parmesan to taste, and toss again. Serve piping hot, passing more Parmesan separately at the table. Serves 4.
Note: Instead of cooking peas separately, why not just toss the frozen peas into the boiling water with the pasta a couple of minutes before your timer goes off? That’s all the time they will need.

pleasant pasta

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