I am not sure about you, but cooking has a meditative and soothing effect on me. Maybe because it gives me structure, a result to look forward to and the hands-on process makes me focused on what I am doing at that specific moment. Quite often I catch myself being concentrated only on the specific task I am doing, maybe it is chopping a tomato or thin slicing a cucumber, my mind stops to spin around and it stays where my hands are. I am not trying to plan my next task. I am only concentrated on the one I am doing right at that moment and I want give my whole attention and respect to it. Then, when I am done, I move onto the next ingredient and I follow the same process. The coolest thing about it is that it comes to me naturally, I don’t force myself to do it that way, I don’t think about it. It just happens. And it is only when someone shares how frustrating cooking is for them that I start thinking why I love cooking so much.
For some reason cooking, traveling and dogs (the big, soft, happy, wet nosed kind!!!), are at no fear to me. I want to grab them, hug them, smell them and follow them (and not only the dogs – and even if they might be covered with mud and smell like a dead mouse). Doing and being around these things makes me very happy. That is the reason why I try to cook new recipes. They teach me new things and expand my perception of life. And that is not to say that I jump from one thing to another. Quite often I fall in love with a recipe that I want to cook until I perfect it – even if it means that I will have to eat potatoes every day for lunch and dinner for 2 weeks.
The following recipe is of the latest kind. I have been cooking and eating this pasta until I got it to the point of pure lovely yumminess. It is simple, yet it has all elements of a beautiful dish. It starts with building flavors by crisping the prosciutto and sautéing the shallots, garlic and wine in the prosciutto drippings. Then adding the al dente pasta and allowing it to soak all the yummy flavors. And finishing by tossing the pasta with lots of fresh Parmesan which makes for a creamy complex-flavored sauce.
This recipe is a favorite of mine. I often make it for my friends on the nights when laughing is more important than the heavy, multi-hours, 5 course – ala Martha Stewart type of cooking. And that recipe never failed me.
See you soon my fiends! Cook something tonight and be happy!
Pasta with Peas and Prosciutto
• 1/3 dry spaghetti package
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 4-5 prosciutto slices, torn into 1-inch pieces
• 1 medium size shallot
• 1 garlic clove, smashed
• 2 tbsp white wine
• 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
• 1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/4 dry thyme)
• 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
• Salt and pepper
- Pour yourself a glass of white wine, sip and enjoy the cooking:
- Heat a large pot with 4 quarts of salted water until it reaches the boiling point. Add the spaghetti and stir gently to separate. Lower the heat to medium-high, watch so water doesn’t over boil and stir from time to time to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook until the pasta is al dente (neither crunchy nor too soft).
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large non-stick pan. Arrange the prosciutto pieces so they cover the pan and are not touching each other. Adjust the heat to medium-low, cook the prosciutto for 1 minute, then turn the pieces on the other side and cook for an additional minute – until crispy but not burnt. Remove the prosciutto with a slotted spoon, place on a plate and set aside.
- Using the same pan (do not clean the prosciutto drippings) add the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil, shallot and the garlic. Cook until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and peas and cook for 30 seconds. Using tongs or a spaghetti spoon (long, cupped, pronged spoon) take the spaghetti out of the water and place them into the pan with the rest of the ingredients. Add 2 ladles of the spaghetti water, stir well and cook on low heat until most of the water is absorbed, about 2 minutes. The pasta should be wet and have some liquid, if dry add a 1/2 ladle of the pasta water. Turn the heat off. Add thyme, prosciutto, Parmesan and pepper (to taste) to the pan. Toss the pasta gently using 2 spoons until Parmesan cheese coats the noodles and turns into a creamy sauce.
- Divide the pasta between 2 plates. Top with extra Parmesan cheese and serve right away.
TIP: If you forgot to thaw the peas in advance, place them in the pot with the boiling spaghetti. Remove them after 1-2 minutes using a slotted spoon