Pour one out, if you will, for the imported Italian bowl that you see above: I bought it on eBay a few years ago, it was my pride and joy, and yesterday — after doing the dishes — I was putting ramekins away high up in a cabinet and one of them fell and broke my most treasured kitchen possession. There are now two broken off pieces and my friend Rebecca gave me a Kintsugi kit, but it’ll never be the same.
Thankfully, its last night on this earth was a happy one (and, for the record, it has a twin in case you see the bowl again!). Happy because of this pasta which I made using frozen peas, a little butter, scallions, and lots of Parmesan. These are all things you should have in your fridge and freezer anyway: frozen peas (they’re better than fresh peas!), Parmesan cheese (guilty secret: I buy the good stuff, but already grated… don’t @ me), butter (I’m going through a Kerrygold phase), and scallions, which are excellent on eggs, in salads, and, as you’re about to see, pasta.
This pasta is so easy, it basically makes itself. And it tastes good in summer, even though none of the ingredients are particularly summery (peas are springy, if anything) and also in winter when you want something fresh.
To make it, you sauté the white and light green parts of scallions (a whole bunch) in a tablespoon or two of butter. You add the frozen peas directly from the package and then, after dropping your pasta into boiling salted water, you add a ladleful of it to the skillet with the peas. You let that all cook together, adding more water as necessary to keep it saucy.
The real magic happens at the end: you lift the pasta directly into the skillet with the peas and then add all of the things that make it taste great… lots of lemon zest, lots of pepper, a bit more butter (it helps it set up), and then a ton of Parmesan.
These final moments are where you constantly taste and tell yourself “that’s what chefs do” but really you’re tasting because it tastes so good. If it doesn’t, that’s an easy fix: throw in more Parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice (if you think it needs it), and black pepper. Here’s a little secret I’ll tell you: shoe leather would taste good if you doused it in Parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, butter, and black pepper. Knowing that, you really can’t fail.
So make this Anytime Pasta in honor of a bowl that served its kitchen well. It was an honor to know you.
Anytime Pasta with Scallions, Peas, and Parmesan
A quick, weeknight dinner that uses things you should already have in your fridge and freezer.
Servings 4 people (or 2 very hungry people)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 Tbs butter, divided in half
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped, whites and green parts separated
- 1 package frozen peas Organic, if possible
- 1 pound Penne or Orecchiette or Cavatappi Lots of pasta would work here; just don’t use spaghetti. It won’t catch the peas.
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 – 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Important to use the good stuff here; look for “aged” Parmesan
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season well with salt (it should taste like well-seasoned broth).
In a large skillet, melt two tablespoons of the butter and, when foamy, add the white parts of the scallion, plus a pinch of salt. When soft, add the package of frozen peas and, at the same time, drop the pasta into the boiling water.
Using a ladle, lift about a cup of the pasta water into the skillet with the peas and scallions. Lower to a simmer and let that cook for a bit. If the skillet gets dry, add more pasta water. You don’t want the temperature so hot that the peas break apart, so be gentle here.
When the pasta is cooked al dente (one minute less than the package directions; best to taste here), lift it with a spider tool into the skillet with the peas. Add another ladleful of pasta water, turn up the heat, and stir all around, until the pasta is coated in the buttery scallion pea mixture and there’s no more liquid at the bottom of the skillet.
Turn the heat off, add the remaining butter, lots of black pepper, the zest of the lemon (zest it directly over the pasta to catch the oils), a little lemon juice (to taste), and at least 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Stir it all around and taste to adjust with more lemon, black pepper, and Parmesan.
Serve in pasta bowls and top with more Paremsan and pepper.
Penne with Ramp Pesto, Asparagus, and Peas (Amateur Gourmet)
Penne with Peas, Pea Greens, and Parmesan (New York Times)
Creamy One-Post Pasta with Peas and Mint (Bon Appetit)
Pasta with Ham and Peas (Simply Recipes)