Pea and Roasted Garlic Pasta

Or mushy-pea pasta. Or glow-in-the-dark pasta.

If it makes you more inclined to make it, then stick with the first description, because this one is good. And because I’m feeling a little shiny with pride about it.

I came up with the idea on a sleety-wet, miserable Swiss Monday earlier on this week. With no freelance work on the horizon, I had, yet again, turned to my cookbooks for comfort and saliva gland stimulation.

Nigel and his Appetite fell into my lap.

Just under half-way through this book is Nigel’s section on pasta, and as you flip slowly past the quick, the soothing and the cheap pasta suppers, you reach one which begins, “a creamy, calming…” and you stop.

Reading on, I was reminded that this was a pasta dish that used a whole bulb of roasted garlic per person. The thought of roasting bulbs of garlic whole, skins and all, reminded me of a Nigella Lawson recipe for crostini, which included peas and parmesan.

A new recipe was born.

For 2 to 3 people:

Garlic – 2 small heads

Olive oil – 1 tsp, plus another tbsp

Frozen petit pois – 200g

Freshly grated Parmesan – 4 tbsp

Chicken stock – approx. 200ml

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Tagliatelle – enough to feed 2 to 3 people

Mint – freshly chopped (optional), or

Pancetta – 1 to 2 rashers, chopped and fried until beginning to crisp (again, optional).

Set your oven to 200 degrees celcius/gas mark 6 and while it’s heating, take the garlic and trim the stems at the top, so that the cloves are just exposed. Take a piece of foil large enough for both bulbs and sit them in the middle. Drizzle over the tsp of oil and bring the foil up around the garlic bulbs, scrunching it at the top and sides to make a neat little parcel.

Pop the foil parcel onto a baking sheet and place it in the preheated oven. Leave it in there for about 50 mins or so, until the garlic cloves squish between your fingers when pressed lightly.

When the garlic is ready, pull the bulbs apart, flaking off the thin papery outer layer as you go and squeeze the garlic from its caramel skin into a food processor.

When you’re ready to eat, put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Tip the petit pois into another saucepan and pour over enough chicken stock to come just about level with the tops of the peas. Any more and I fear you’d be in danger of the pasta sauce becoming a soup. (Albeit a mighty tasty one.)

Bring the stock to the boil and cook the peas for a little longer than you would normally. Once the peas are well cooked, tip them, and their cooking stock, into the food processor with the roasted garlic and an extra glug of oil. Process to a smooth sauce and taste. Add salt and pepper as you feel necessary, bearing in mind that you will be adding Parmesan in a moment.

Once the tagliatelle is cooked (and is still retaining a bit of ‘bite’), drain lightly and return it to its pan. Add the grated Parmesan to the food processer and blitz briefly, before tipping the contents into the pasta pan and mixing well. Serve immediately onto heated plates.

You might want to put your block of Parmesan and grater on the table too while you’re handing this out.

Although I didn’t add either mint or crisp pancetta on this occasion, I would not hesitate about doing either next time I feel the urge to make this. And I will get that urge. It’s only a matter of time.


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