Easy Peasy Pasta

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There are some specific criteria to being a successful home cook. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to have food in the house! That may not sound very profound, but no one, not even Gordon Ramsay, can prepare food without basics in the pantry and refrigerator. It’s just impossible.

It’s not only necessary to have ingredients available, it’s so much less expensive to cook with those ingredients, instead of going out for restaurant food or contacting a delivery service.

Some staples I must have in my pantry include pasta, grains, and legumes.

Canned products are essential, especially canned tomatoes. I also love canned beans because I feel they’re a quality ingredient, and I always have canned tuna on hand.

I like to keep milk products like canned coconut milk, evaporated milk, and goat milk on hand as well.

Besides canned products, it’s necessary to have staples such as oils and vinegars, or at least one of each! Plus sweeteners and unique pastes.

Refrigerated items that are important to me are sauces and condiments. If I want to make any kind of dish with Asian ingredients, like a quick noodle soup, I can simply reach for hoisin sauce, smoked sesame oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, and Gochujang. But if you only want mayo and mustard, that’s fine too!

The refrigerator is also where I keep my nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Butter, eggs, and cheese are definite refrigerator staples for me, as are demi glaces. But cream, yogurt, and even ricotta can help in a pinch, whether you’re cooking an Italian dish such as a pasta, or an Indian curry.

The freezer comes in handy, also, for storing frozen vegetables and stock.

Which brings me to this pasta dish. It’s a perfect example of preparing a quick and easy meal with just a few basic ingredients. It’s a dish that can be made on a weeknight after work, or after a vacation when you’re too tired to put much effort in to whipping up a meal, and have no fresh produce.

Easy Peasy Pasta
printable recipe below

12-16 ounces pasta, a pretty shape or color
1 – 15 ounce carton whole-milk ricotta, at room temperature
12 ounce package of frozen peas
Parmesan, optional

Boil a large pot of salted water, and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Meanwhile, scoop the ricotta cheese into a large, heatproof bowl; set aside.

Gently heat the frozen peas in the microwave. I place a little folded paper towel in the bottom of the bowl for excess liquid, but drain them if there’s a significant amount of water.

Drain the pasta when it’s cooked, then add it hot to the bowl with the ricotta. Stir gently.

If necessary, thin with a little milk or cream, or even a little butter. (All staples!) Or, use a little pasta water.

Add the peas and incorporate. Taste for salt and pepper.

Place the pasta in individual bowls or a serving bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired.

I used a few toasted pine nuts on top of the pasta for some texture. And that’s it! (Also another staple of mine.)

This recipes shows how good a very simple and basic cooking can be, using what you have in your kitchen.

Now, for a heartier meal, you can add some garbanzo beans from a can… from your pantry! I love the heartiness of pasta and beans in the same dish.

Also, rotisserie chicken or even smoked salmon would be wonderful added to the pasta. Or, canned tuna.

Cooking truly isn’t difficult, and it definitely doesn’t have to be time consuming.

Keep your pantry and refrigerator stocked with basics. That way, you’re naturally creative in the kitchen, not wasteful, and can cook in a pinch!

 

Mushy Peas

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The first time I had mushy peas was, not surprisingly, in London when I was visiting my daughter. And, not surprisingly, I had them because they came with my fish and chips. I was a little skeptical, not being a huge pea lover, but they were good! Really good!
fandc
The peas are often also served along the other quintessential British pub dish meat pie.
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The peas traditionally used for mushy peas are called marrowfat peas, and they’re dry peas, cooked from scratch. But I have never seen them, and decided that a bag of frozen peas will have to work.

What gives mushy peas their unique flavor is mint. It turns out it’s really a lovely combination!
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I found a recipe on the Jamie Oliver website. Mushy peas are insanely easy to make.

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Mushy Peas
Recipe by Jamie Oliver

1 knob butter
4 handfuls podded peas
1 small handful fresh mint, leaves picked and chopped
1 squeeze lemon juice
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

So since I have no podded peas, here’s my version of this recipe.

1 – 1 pound bag frozen peas, thawed
1 ounce unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
1 squirt lemon juice
Salt
Black pepper

Drain the peas in a colander to remove any excess water from the peas.
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Place the peas in a food processor and pulse. I made mine a cross between whole peas and completely mushed up peas. I noticed that in my top photo with the fish and chips, the mushy peas look like a mixture of pea purée and whole peas, and the peas with the meat pie look softer, and more mushy. So you can probably make them just about any way.

To quote Jamie Oliver: “You can either mush the peas up in a food processor, or you can mash them by hand until they are stodgy, thick and perfect for dipping your fish into.”

I think mine might not be stodgy enough, but then, I’m not sure what stodgy means.

Place the butter in a medium-sized pot that has a lid, and add the stodgy peas.
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Add the mint leaves, cover the pot, and simmer the peas on low for about 10 minutes.

Give the peas a good stir, then add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.


And that’s it!
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Unfortunately, I didn’t have fish and chips, but I did pan-fry a Swai filet and the combination was fabulous!
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I’m wondering if children who hate peas might actually enjoy mushy peas!