by - 5:51 AM

I love using shells for this simple sauce, because the shells collect the peas and the
mushroom sauce in the nooks and crannies and deliver a surprise with every
forkful. Prosciutto can be substituted for the bacon to give a more authentically
Italian taste, and other seasonal vegetables can be added or substituted, as long as
they are cut into small pieces to nestle inside the shells.
Salt for the pasta pot, plus more to taste
1½ cups shelled young peas or frozen baby peas
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
½ cup chopped spring onions or scallions
2 cups cleaned and sliced mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster, and crimini
2 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound small pasta shells (conchiglie)
½ cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
If using fresh peas, blanch them in a medium saucepan of boiling water 2 minutes.
Drain the peas, and rinse them under cold water until cool. Drain them thoroughly.
(Frozen peas need to be defrosted and drained, but not blanched.)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and onions, and
sauté, stirring, until the onions are wilted, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and
sprinkle them with salt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until all the mushrooms
have released and lost their moisture, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the chicken stock, peas, and butter, and season the entire pan lightly with salt
and pepper. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Check the
seasoning, and adjust if necessary.
Meanwhile, stir the shells into the boiling pasta water. Cook the pasta, stirring
occasionally, until al dente—tender but firm—about 12 minutes.
Drain the pasta, and return it to the empty pot, now set over low heat. Pour in the
sauce, and stir over low heat until the pasta is coated. Remove from heat, and add the
grated cheese. Toss well, and transfer to a warmed serving platter or individual bowls.

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