31 May 2010
I was inspired by the recipes on the Greek cooking blogs I shared earlier and decided to try one of the recipes for peas in a mint cream sauce over pasta from the Kali Orexi blog. It was wonderful- filling but light to the taste with a refreshing mint flavour, satisfying all of my spring food desires.
Mint, like cinnamon, is a spice I do not automaically associate with savoury cooking. Mint is a taste that I know from peppermint ice cream and candy canes, peppermint tea and lots of variations in gum. Maybe Southern Living magazine would once in a while have a recipe for a cool strawberry and mint dessert in the summer months. I think we did not even have a lot of mint on hand growing up that I remember. I am sure my mom did have mint as we had a magnificent herb and spice collection, though I cannot recall ever using it.
Although mint and cinnamon are not sweet per se, because I have this association with those flavours in sweet dishes, I always find it surprising when my fiance enjoys mint and cinnamon with dinner. Somehow, I expect him to not enjoy it because he does not like sweet and savoury tastes together, though he does not have the same associations with these flavours as I do. I can see it already and it will probably increase over time that we influence each other's tastes more and more so that one day I might think a dish is missing mint and he might want syrup with his bacon. I'll let you know when that day comes.
Back to the mint cream sauce. This was a simple recipe to make although I could not find fresh mint in a pinch so I used a large amount of dried mint. The fresh mint would definitely be better, but dried mint still imparted a refreshing flavour. I wasn't sure if this would go, but I decided to cook a bit of pancetta to sprinkle on top of the pasta. The pancetta was sometimes overpowering, but a little sprinkle on top was just enough to add some saltiness and crunch, which was great with the freshness of the mint.
For full instructions and beautiful pictures, check out the Kali Orexi blog.
Pasta with Peas in a Mint Cream Sauce from Kali Orexi
1 packet pasta
lots of peas (about 1 pound)
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup double (heavy) cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
5 leaves chopped fresh mint or 4 Tablespoons dried mint
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta and peas, drain most of the liquid, drizzle with olive oil and set aside. Heat cream until almost simmering and add lemon zest, mint and 2 tablespoons olive oil. I kept heating the mixture so the flavors would combine, stirring constantly. Add the pasta and peas back into the pot and coat with the cream sauce, thickening it as you go for a few more minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of cooked pancetta and mint if desired.