June 30, 2021
Whenever someone in our home gets a pasta craving, we stop by a small neighborhood shop called Fabio’s that makes its own pasta. I’ve bought lasagna sheets, macaroni and all kinds of fresh pasta there over the years. When we were doing an Indian Italian mash-up type pasta dish at the Bake Lab, we used their penne pasta.
Lately, Fabio’s has had a wonderful new pasta simply called “short egg pasta” — it looks like a cross between penne and fusilli. I love the way sauce or cheese clings to the hollow and the curved parts of the pasta like no other pasta I’ve cooked with. I like to cook pasta until it’s cooked all the way, not al dente.
Given that fresh peas are still in season and available at local grocery stores, here is a masala of sorts made with fennel seeds, parsley, garlic, olive oil and peas. Feel free to substitute the herb of your choice; basil or cilantro or a combination of the two will taste just as delicious, if not more. If you do cook the pasta all the way, the masala will sneak into the nooks and crevices. Serrano pepper adds a crisp heat, but feel free to leave it out.
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound fresh “short egg pasta” (radiatore) from Fabio’s or fusilli, cooked according to instructions
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup fresh peas
1 serrano pepper, sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
Juice of 2 lemons
1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (optional)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
Few tablespoons of olive oil for drizzling on top
Discard the bottom two inches of the parsley stems and roughly chop the remaining.
In a small frying pan over high heat, warm the olive oil and pop the fennel seeds. Immediately turn the heat down, take the pan off the heat, add the garlic, and cook it until it turns translucent, which usually takes 2 to 3 seconds. Add the peas, serrano, salt, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil then turn the heat off. Let the mixture rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
In a food processor or blender, mix the pea mixture with parsley and juice from 2 lemons.
Combine the pea masala with warm, cooked pasta — add a few tablespoons of water if needed to bring the whole mixture together.
Serve with grated Pecorino, pine nuts and a final drizzle of olive oil.
For a plant-based version, replace cheese with toasted chopped cashews.
This recipe was finished with Entimio single-origin Vivace olive oil, imported by a Houston aficionado.
Frozen peas can easily substitute fresh; however; it will require less cooking time.
December 02, 2022