Summer is the time to eat local with everything coming into season at once. I’m continually thinking of easy dishes to make use of these plentiful summertime ingredients and still give myself time to enjoy being outdoors. Fresh peas were the inspiration for this pasta dish, combined with sage butter, prosciutto and freshly grated parmesan.
Sage butter tastes unlike anything else I can think of and combines beautifully with the peas and pasta. It has a nutty, musky flavor that mellows considerably as it cooks. You can be more generous with fresh herbs than dried, so don’t hold back. If you don’t cook it too long, you’ll get wonderfully crispy bits of sage that add a unique dimension to this simple dish and threaten to steal the show.
I can’t forget the peas — available at Willie Greens, even pre-shelled for us lazy locavores. The season won’t last, so now is the time to jump on it. If you have grown your own and have extra, peas are a vegetable that freezes well and frozen peas are an acceptable substitute in this recipe.
I used prosciutto because I’ve gotten into the habit of buying the ends at Whole Foods but a local meat like bacon or ham will work well too (especially the shoulder bacon from Wooly Pigs , one of my personal favorites).
Once again, I’ve been inspired by Jerry Traunfeld and his Herbfarm Cookbook. I use his cookbooks so often I’m not surprised he is naming his new restaurant after me. ( Just kidding — it will be named Poppy, but after his mom).
1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh shelled peas
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves (cut large leaves into ribbons, small leaves can be left whole)
1 lb fresh pasta ( I used cappellini from La Pasta)
3 ounces prosciutto, bacon or ham
freshly grated hard cheese
Put peas in a steamer basket and steam in a pot over boiling water for just about a minute until they are bright green and still crisp. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add sage leaves and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often until the butter just starts to brown and the sage gives off a nutty, toasty aroma. Add prosciutto and cook until it loses its rosy color. Add the peas and cook briefly to reheat.
In the same pot you used to steam the peas, add to the pea-cooking water to make around 6 qts. Cover and bring to a boil. Add fresh pasta and cook for about 3 minutes until tender. Drain noodles and add to the skillet. Toss it all together and sprinkle with grated cheese, salt and pepper.