I’m officially ready for a long winters’ nap. This past weekend was the official start of the season of leftover party food, mince tarts, cheese balls and Christmas crack for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all snacks between – however, I am responsible for the care and feeding of another human, and feel like I should give him the occasional proper meal.
Also: I find we all get a little squirrelly when we subsist on shortbread and Toffifee.
W and I just taped a cooking segment together in my mom’s kitchen, cooking with Barilla pasta – and I tried a recipe I likely wouldn’t have otherwise made, and the results were devoured by everyone present, including W and his cousins, who were still there from a sleepover and watched, giggling, from under the camera stand and lights. W hadn’t slept and intermittently burst into tears, but was excited to get to be in the kitchen with me – he wanted to call it the crazy pirate cooking show and came up with a Jolly Roger logo where a knife and fork replaced the crossbones, and the skull is wearing a chefs’ hat. Pretty genius, I think.
I usually don’t go for whole wheat or grainy pastas, as they tend to be as tweedy as an Oxford suit jacket. But this has a smooth mouthfeel, and the added fibre and protein comes from chickpeas and lentils, and barley, flax and oat fibre along with the traditional semolina. Pasta made with prairie ingredients! It has 14 grams (!) of protein per serving – which is pretty amazing for pasta. I admit I’m as guilty as anyone of opening jars, but this is a little more interesting than the usual ground-beef-and-tomato-sauce-pasta, and it takes less time than cooking the pasta itself – the whole thing is done in under 15 minutes. One bowl and fork. One couch. One Christmas movie. All good.
Penne with Pancetta, Grape Tomatoes, Peas and Romano
Adapted from Barilla.
1/2 box Barilla PLUS® penne or other chunky pasta
1/2 cup thinly sliced prosciutto or pancetta
extra virgin olive oil, for cooking
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
salt and black pepper, to taste
In a large pot of water, cook the penne according to package directions. Before draining, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain and set aside.
In a large, heavy skillet, sauté the prosciutto or pancetta in a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat until crisp. Add the tomatoes and cook until the skins are slightly blistered. Add the peas (they can go in straight from the freezer, even) and cook for a few minutes. Return the pasta to the pan, season with salt and pepper and add the cooking water, tossing to combine everything and create a bit of sauce. Add the Romano, too.
Serve immediately, passing extra grated cheese at the table. Serves 4-6.