Pasta dishes are just about my favorite go-to-meal. I love the pasta, the sauces, and the combinations. The other day I was picking some of my late peas. Usually I sauté the pods and eat them just like that. I had waited a few days too many to check my peas and some pods were literally bulging with peas. I decided I would shell a few of the bigger pods and toss the peas in a fresh salad. As I sat there shelling the peas my pod pile grew much faster than my pile of peas. I started to think about what I could do with the empty pea pods, other than feed them to my chickens. Using the pods for a pasta sauce was playing around in the back of my food brain. I began my experiment, and what a huge success it was. My husband said it was ‘the best pasta dish I ever made’. Wow! The recipe that follows is low in fat and low in sodium. It is fresh, nutritious, and delicious. Best of all, it is so simple and just plain clean-eating. If you don’t have access to fresh peas just use frozen peas, and pick up snow peas or any other pea pod in the produce department at your market. I often use gluten-free pasta as I do here, but non-gluten free works just as well. The recipe that follows makes two, very generous, servings.
½ cup chopped, lean ham*
1/3 cup peas (Fresh is best, but frozen will work.)
1-2/3 cup pea pods (Buy snow peas if you don’t have fresh pea pods.)
1 ½ teaspoon dried sage leaf (Do not use ground sage.)
2 tablespoons minced green onion tops
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
½ of small lemon
Parmesan cheese for garnish
In a large pot heat 8 cups of water to a rolling boil. Drop in the pea pods and cook 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove the pods and rinse the pods with cold water. Keep the water you cooked the pods in hot and once boiling add the pasta and cook according to the package directions for al dente pasta. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. In a blender add ½ cup milk and the drained, cooked, pea pods. Blend until smooth. Set aside. In a sauté pan heat the olive oil on medium heat. You don’t want the heat to be too high or the peas with pop. Add the chopped ham and minced onion tops. Add the peas and cook two minutes, stirring often. Add the drained pasta to the sauté pan and cook three minutes, turning the pasta frequently to coat with the ham mixture. Add the sage, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Add the blended milk and pea pods. Add the juice of ½ lemon. With tongs turn the pasta to coat with the sauce. If sauce is too thick, add a bit of the reserved pasta water to thin it. Remove from the heat and plate. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
*You can substitute the ham for a bit of crisped bacon. Just skip the ham step, and sprinkle crisp bacon on top the pasta dish. This recipe won’t be as low in fat as with the lean ham, but it will be delicious.