Spring is full of wonderful things! Since I moved to a place with no seasons, I can’t say that I’m experiencing any of those wonderful things, but I do remember those signs of spring. The first day it’s warm enough to wear a dress without tights and boots. The first yellow-green buds on the trees. The tulips. The first picnic. And the abundance of things-that-are-not-brown at the farmer’s market. Asparagus, spring onions, rhubarb, fava beans and pea shoots.
If you’re not familiar with them, pea shoots are lovely little green things that taste just like spring. So while it’s already hitting 80 degrees with 90% humidity down here, I can whip up something with pea shoots, close my eyes and remember the newness of spring. This pasta is one of those easy dishes – pancetta, shallots, pea shoots, lemon, olive oil and pepper tossed with linguine. It’s light and fresh and just tastes like spring! I am kind of in love with it and I think you will be, too.
And now for some housekeeping. I’m going on a long and lovely 2 week vacation to Paris, Rome and Tuscany. I’m so excited I can barely contain myself! I fully intend to gain 10 pounds and eat gelato, pastries, pasta and wine until my jeans no longer fit. So, things might be a little quiet around here starting next week, but I promise I’ll be back and inspired to cook and share everying I ate. Anyone got any must-eat places I shouldn’t miss? Leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to my very very long list.
If you can’t find pea shoots, or it’s off-season, you can use finely chopped baby spinach.
1 lb. whole wheat linguine or your favorite kind of pasta
1/4 lb. (4 oz.) pancetta, finely diced
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cups pea shoots, washed and coarsely chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
lots of freshly ground pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
Parmesan or pecorino cheese for grating
Set a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the pancetta and shallots and cook for about 8 minutes, or until they are beginning to turn golden around the edges. Don’t worry if it starts to stick a little. Add the pea shoots and cook for an additional 2 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.
Cook the pasta until it’s almost al dente. Set the skillet back over medium heat. Using tongs, transfer the linguine directly into the skillet, allowing some of the pasta water to transfer to the skillet as well. (If you’re not cool with this method, you can also drain the linguine in a colander, reserving 1/3 cup pasta water, then toss the pasta and water into the skillet.)
Drizzle with the olive oil, add a lot of freshly ground pepper and the lemon juice. Using 2 wooden spoons or your tongs, toss everything together until evenly coated, making sure to deglaze the brown/sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. Those are quite delicious.
Serve with a generous dusting of pecorino cheese.
Makes about 6 servings (4 if you’re starving).