The reward for shelling ten pounds of peas for freezing is setting aside enough to make Macaroni Peas. A meetup of two English classics, mushy peas and macaroni cheese, this is the kind of seasonally vibrant dish that is completely of the moment. Tasting purely of peas, the sweetness of them in their freshest state is enriched by a creamy blend of butter and parmesan cheese.
To make this exquisitely simple dish — just five ingredients, not counting the basil — you’ll need about two pounds of peas for a pound shelled. Feel free to use good olive oil instead of butter, or garlic scapes in place of the cloves. New garlic is appearing at the markets, and would be especially lovely to use. If you can, make sure to include some freshly slivered basil, it adds just the right note of mint. To someone accustomed to the spare Italian way of dressing pasta, the sauce will seem alarmingly too much for the amount of pasta. Set aside your prejudices and think English comfort food, the sauciness is rather the point.
1 pound shelled small peas, fresh or frozen
10 ounces pasta, in a small shape (like macaroni, fusilli, orecchiette)
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 ounce (about ⅓ cup) parmesan, coarsely grated
Shredded basil (optional)
– Put on a large pot of salted water on to boil, enough to hold the pasta. Add peas and cook until just tender, a couple of minutes at most. Scoop peas out into a bowl, leaving behind the water to cook pasta in later.
– Melt the butter (or heat the olive oil) in a small pan over low heat; add the garlic and cook gently for several minutes. Remove from the heat.
– Put half the cooked peas in a blender with 6 tablespoons of their cooking water, the butter and garlic, and the grated cheese. Puree until smooth, adding more cooking water if necessary. Combine with the remaining (whole) peas and season liberally with salt and pepper.
– Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with the hot pea sauce. Finish with shredded basil, adjust seasonings, and serve with more grated cheese.
Adapted from “River Cottage Veg” by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, via Food52.