Mini Shells with Peas and Pancetta

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I'm calling this Daylight Savings pasta, and I'm calling it this because on Sunday (Daylight Savings), I went to the grocery store at 8am (approximately three hours earlier than I care to be awake, let alone up, on Sundays) because I had to buy pancetta because I had to eat this pasta. I'd had the recipe flagged for weeks, and I knew it was as complicated as a meal could get on this particular Sunday.

So I bought the pancetta, was home by 8:30, and then fell asleep on the couch watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Somewhere between 11 and 12 I got up, somewhere between 12 and 3 I cleaned the apartment, somewhere between 3 and 5 I read, and sometime before then it got dark and crushed my will to live. Every year Daylight Savings is a reminder of the things I always forget about November but then always remember once November rolls around. Like, how hard it is to want to be outside when it's dark (and dark so early). But how cozy home, especially the kitchen, is when it is.

That said, this recipe's about minimal kitchen time and you might already have everything in your fridge (do you always have pancetta on hand? Can I come over?). The site I found it from calls it "could-not-have-been-easier pasta." It's the perfect blend of four ingredients, and really, it can't be any easier to make.

1 pound pasta shells 
Handful frozen peas to taste
Salt and pepper
Shake or two of red pepper flakes
Olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped 
1/2 cup pancetta pieces
1/2 cup Parmesan, plus extra for serving 
2 pats butter
Handful freshly chopped parsley 

Cook pasta according to package directions. When it has one more minute of cooking, toss frozen peas into the water with the pasta. Reserve about 1/4 cup of pasta water then drain in a colander, drizzling a little oil into pasta to prevent sticking.

Return pot to stove and over medium heat, add a few glugs of olive oil, onions, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook about a minute, stirring. Add pancetta and cook until slightly crisp. Add pasta and peas to the pot and stir everything to combine.

Add cheese and butter and a drizzle of reserved pasta water to make the cheese distribute evenly. Serve in bowls with more cheese and herbs.

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