Thursday, May 17, 2012

sweet pea & panchetta macaroni

 On a fancy schmancy date night a while ago, Dane took me to this cute Italian restaurant down the street that we pass on our way to the grocery store. They have two ceramic penguins sitting at the table in the window, so you know it's upscale, or why would they be wearing tuxedos? At our dinner, I ordered pasta (angel hair? spaghetti? something long and skinny) with panchetta and sweet peas, and whoa, it was delicious. The salty, chewy panchetta and the bright sweet peas perfectly offset each other, and the reheated leftovers tasted even better. So of course, I had to recreate it at home one of these days, with on sale ($0.88!) macaroni and with a little cheesy twist. I am from Wisconsin, after all.

Sweet Pea & Panchetta Macaroni
serves 4-6

1lb elbow macaroni
4 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup milk
1 cup panchetta, cooked & chopped
1 cup sweet peas, cooked
3/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
parmesan cheese to garnish

Cook macaroni according to directions on the box. While macaroni is draining, heat the butter and milk over low heat in the same pot you used to cook the pasta. Once butter has melted, slowly incorporate macaroni into the liquid, stirring in about a cup at a time. Once macaroni is coated, turn off the heat. Fold the panchetta and the peas into the mixture. Add the cheeses and mix lightly. Once the shredded* cheese is mostly melted, portion, sparsely or liberally sprinkle with parmesan, and serve.
*in my pasta, the crumbled gorgonzola stayed pretty solid.

This pasta can easily be made vegetarian by substituting another veggie--try spinach to capture a similar saltiness. Invite some penguins over for your fancy dinner!

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