Sunday, June 12, 2005


Spaghetti con piselli , prosciutto, e menta (spaghetti with peas, prosciutto, and mint)

Spring peas are in the markets and so Isabella offers you a heavenly dish using these sweet, delicate denizens of the pods. This is a typical Sicilian dish, using mint for the garnish, rather than basil or parsley. (Although Isabella often minces all three and scatters the herbs over whatever dish she has made.)

This is quite easy to make, the ingredients for the spaghetti will be done before the pasta is cooked.

One important thing here, though, is to use FRESH peas, frozen is a second choice. Canned? Mai! Mai! Mai!

The fresh peas and prosciutto will give this dish delicate spring colors of pale pinks and greens; and the taste of those recently harvested green pearls will send your heart into piselli paradise. I promise.

When I was a child, my parents would set out a dish of unshelled peas on the table, and my brother and I would dig in, grab a pod, open it, and eat the piselli like candy. This was a real treat for us, and we often had it as a "dessert" after supper when the peas were coming into season.

When I was five or six, I remember going to a friend's house and seeing a can of peas. I didn't know what they were at first; but after looking at the picture of them on the label, a light went on in my head, and I said to my friend's mother "We don't get our peas from a can, ours come from a shell."

This recipe serves 2:

1/2 pound of spaghetti (I use Barilla)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 1/4 cups of fresh shelled peas, (about a pound and a half in the shell) or frozen (NEVER CANNED)
2 oz. prosciutto cut in edible size pieces (or you may use pancetta--Italian bacon)
1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste (red pepper flakes, too, optional, but they give this a nice "bite" to its flavor)
4 generous tablespoons of chopped fresh mint
4 tablespoons of grated parmesan or romana cheese

Shell the peas, then blanch them in boiling water for a minute and a half. Set aside.

Boil water for the spaghetti in a large pot, and while it come to the boil make the peas and prosciutto.

In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil until it slides around in the pan. Add the garlic slices and saute until tender. Do not burn them. You may remove them if you wish after they've cooked (I always leave them in).

Add the peas and prosciutto, the stock, salt and pepper[s]. Saute very gently for 30 seconds, do NOT overcook the prosciutto, or it will toughen.

Drain the pasta, and add it to the saute pan with the piselli and prosciutto, heat through for a half minute or so on medium high heat. Add the mint.

Serve immediately, and pass the cheese. A fruity Chianti goes well with this.

The second picture posted in this entry is what I made for dessert. Since I had already had my "dessert" peas for my entree, I put together acombination of honeydew melon (from Israel), fresh strawberries, blueberries, and kiwi fruit, added mint leaves and sprinkled it with powdered sugar. Eccola! A beautiful, colorful finish to a wonderful meal.

Enjoy, my little piccioni!

this looks and sounds wonderful, and just might be something i could get her pickiness to eat.
I have big issues with peas. I have hated them ever since childhood. Could I use snowpeas, which I will eat?

When I was in Sicily going on 8 years ago now, I ordered a pizza at a place and there were piselli on it. I didn't know what this word was in English and I had a heck of a time with the cook (who was waiting on our table) trying to figure out what piselli meant. I kept asking him it was a kind of cheese or what. Finally, after about 10 minutes, I said "Non so piselli." He got that and brought out a bowl of peas, pointed at them and said "Piselli!" I said, "Peas!" He laughed. I told him I wanted the pizza but "no piselli." He said, "Si! Nix piselli!"

It was a fantastic pizza. Those were good times...
I'm not sure about snowpeas, but I'll bet fava beans would be fabulous as a substitution.

And I love your story.
Lovely. Fresh peas. I remember going to my uncle's house (an italiano, of course, picking fresh peas from his garden, shelling the little slippery devils, and eating them steamed with dinner. Heaven. Thanks for bringing back the memory.

Do you ever use basalmic vinegar on the fruit salad? Another friend adds fresh pistachio nuts and it's delicious.
I have never been much of a Chianti guy (you know, I am all about Lambrusco). If you were going to recommend a reasonalby priced Chianti to someone who had never had it before, which would it be?

Go to this site to read about Chianti:

The strata of Chianti wines begins with those simply labeled Chianti. These are your everyday drinking wines that should be consumed within a few years of release. Wines in this category range from about $8 to $10. Cetamura from Badia a Coltibuono has lush cherry fruit and a peppery edge that make it a delightful quaff even without food. While this level of Chianti is the lowest in price, the quality is light years above the pizza wines of 25 years ago.

The sub zones within Chianti, which are designated on the label, produce better quality wine than plain Chianti. They include Chianti Colli Senesi, from the hills of Siena; Chianti Colli Fiorentini, from the hills of Florence; Colline Pisane, from the hills of Pisa; Chianti Colli Aretini, from the hills of Arezzo; and Chianti Montalbano, from the northernmost part of Chianti, near Carmignano. Capezzana Chianti Montalbano and Poliziano Chianti Colli Senesi, two well-regarded wines from this category, cost a few dollars more than regular Chianti.

sorry. Here's the wine site. Very informative.
Well, blogger is acting up today. It won't take my html.

Copy the url and past into your browser:
Cool blog you have going here, I will check in often! I have a similar site about kitten food. It pretty much covers kitten food related stuff.
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