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March 11, 2009

Pasta & Peas, My Way From Diane

Pasta and Peas

Diane with one n blogs over at Napa Farmhouse 1885. We bonded over our similar name and I was so excited when she agreed to guest blog for me this week! Be sure and stop over and say hello to her on her blog and she what fabulous things she has cooking over there!

pasta & peas, anyone?

i was so happy when my twitter friend dianne...(i always refer to her as “2 n dianne” because I, too, am diane, but with only one “n”)…asked me to guest host her blog while she went on a holiday…I have a blog, napa farmhouse 1885™…and usually write about food…i am a broken record regarding how much I love fresh, seasonal, organic or sustainably-farmed-when-possible ingredients….my motto, “the ingredients really do make the difference”.

like many people, i have become fascinated with the ninety three year old great-grandmother who is hosting a you-tube series on depression cooking. if you are unfamiliar with her story, clara cannucciari shares recipes and techniques for inexpensive, practical dishes which are filling, nourishing and tasty. one of her grandsons started filming her to record her recipes since she...like many grandmothers...never writes anything down. i love this story and wish i had done the same thing when my grandmother was alive…how cool it would be to have not only her recipes, but her voice sharing all the details of the dishes I loved while growing up…

anyway, clara’s grandson started putting his videos on you-tube and they became an instant hit…what perfect timing in this economy to be taught the lessons our grandparents and great-grandparents learned about simple basic food…and how to stretch a dollar. clara is a hoot as she tells stories about what it was like living through the great depression while also demonstrating her cooking techniques. i have watched all the videos and must confess that I am utterly charmed…she seems like such an honest, genuine person...you feel like you know her.

clara’s first video shares a recipe for pasta & peas...and when i saw the title i was immediately interested. pasta and peas is one of my favorites…a really fast, really easy, really delicious go-to recipe because i always have the ingredients on hand…when i saw clara’s version, however, i realized that our two dishes...while named the same…were miles apart…both interesting…but very different. due to the “great-depression” timing, clara does not emphasize fresh, best-quality available ingredients...how could she? she talks about how hard it was during that time…and how you ate what was available. her recipe uses potatoes, onions, canned peas(including the juice) and pasta all cooked together to create an almost stew-like dish. i imagine it was very filling, very warm, very good and very, very welcome during a cold winter night in the midst of the depression.

my version is lighter...no potatoes…fresher...frozen peas during most of the year...fresh peas in spring…and, as always, places an emphasis on the ingredients…but, i think, still delivers on the premise that excellent food can be simple, inexpensive, local, fast...and pretty easy…

please check out clara’s videos…and try my recipe…and let me know what you think...both in the comments section of this blog...and by visiting me over at my place…napa farmhouse 1885.

Pasta and Peas

pasta & peas, my way
1 lb short pasta (like fusilli)
½ yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy..i do!)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 lb bag frozen peas (or 1 lb fresh in season)
grey sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Pasta and Peas

bring large pot of water to boil…when rapidly boiling, salt water well and add pasta. cook following package directions (10-12 minutes) until just al dente(firm to the bite)…do not overcook. during the last minute of cooking add the frozen peas to the pasta…using a ladle, remove one ladleful of the pasta water and set aside. drain the pasta and peas in a colander. meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic just begins to brown…add the pasta, peas and reserved pasta water to the onion mixture, stir well and add salt and pepper to taste. serve immediately, drizzling pasta with extra virgin olive oil if desired. top with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese


Thanks Diane with one n! That looks fabulous. Be sure to check back tomorrow to see what's up next during our Guest Blogger extravaganza!

Posted by Dianne at March 11, 2009 10:03 AM

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Pasta and peas...Yum! I had never heard of Clara, but what a spirit she has! Thanks again for helping me out last week!

Posted by: Dianne at March 15, 2009 9:25 PM

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