Peas reach comfort-food appeal, with a deeper sweetness and robust savory dimension, when they are cooked until ultra-soft, creamy and a darker shade of green. Here, they are simmered in broth with sauteed onion and smashed garlic cloves to become a sumptuous sauce for pasta. Served topped with ribbons of basil and a shower of sharp pecorino Romano (or Parmesan, if you prefer,) it’s a delightful meal that showcases an often unappreciated side of the spring vegetable.
Total time: 45 mins
Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days.
4 – 5
Tested size: 4-5 servings
3/4 teaspoon fine salt, divided, plus more as needed
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 large sweet onion (6 ounces total), diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 pound shelled tender fresh peas or frozen peas (3 3/4 cups; no need to defrost if frozen)
1 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste
12 ounces spaghetti, preferably whole grain
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season to taste with salt, if desired.
In a large, high-sided skillet over medium-low heat, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and lightly golden but not brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
Add the peas, broth, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally and smashing some of the peas as you stir to thicken the broth, until the peas are very soft, collapsing a bit, and turn a darker shade of green, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves from the skillet and reserve for another use, such as adding to a dressing or spreading on bread.
When the peas have been cooking for 15 minutes, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook it for 2 minutes less than the instructions on the package. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the peas. (If the peas are ready before the pasta, remove them from the heat and set aside until the pasta is done.)
Return the heat under the skillet to medium-high and, using tongs, toss the pasta with the peas to combine. Drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and enough pasta water, a few tablespoons at a time, to loosen the sauce to the desired consistency. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of each salt and pepper and cook, tossing, until the pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes.
Divide among shallow bowls, top each bowl with the cheese and basil, season with the additional salt and/or pepper, if desired, and serve.
From cookbook author and registered nutritionist Ellie Krieger.
Tested by Olga Massov.
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