Have you opened your freezer lately? I bet it's completely full just like mine. And how about the pantry? Does it still look like it's stocked for Y2K? Maybe it's time to start using what you have in your home instead of going grocery shopping. Inspired by eGullet's project to cook without shopping for a week (also mentioned on Diner's Journal), I did just that and created this recipe from ingredients already in my kitchen. In the freezer I had a package of peas and sliced pancetta leftover from this Boeuf Bourguignon. In the refrigerator I had a pint of sour cream and a block of Parmesan cheese. In the cupboard I had a box of spaghetti. My staple ingredients included oil, shallots, garlic, and black pepper.
All these ingredients come together to form a luscious pasta dish in anticipation of springtime. The peas provide bursts of verdant flavor and the pancetta a salt-and-brine flavor. The combination of sour cream and Parmesan cheese with some pasta water creates the perfect sauce. But the best part about this recipe is the endless possibility for reinterpretation depending upon what you have. The ingredients do not have to be the exact ones mentioned here. Use bacon instead of pancetta. Use heavy cream or milk instead of sour cream. Use fettuccine instead of spaghetti. It's up to you to experiment and have fun with it.
Spaghetti with Pancetta and Peas
12 ounces spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 10-ounce package frozen peas
1/4 cup sour cream
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more
Cook spaghetti according to package directions in liberally salted water. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Cut pancetta into small pieces and add to pan. Cook until fat has rendered, about 5 minutes.
Add shallot and garlic, and cook for a few minutes further. Add peas and cook until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes.
Add cooked pasta and the reserved pasta water. Stir in sour cream and cheese; toss until melted and sauce has formed. Serve with additional grated Parmesan. Yield: 4 servings.