This is one of the easiest recipes I’ve posted on the site in a very long time, making it appropriate for a Cheers to the Weekend post because sometimes we just don’t have the time to spend hours and hours in the kitchen, slaving away on one meal. Maybe sometimes we don’t even want to cook at all because enjoying our Saturdays and Sundays to the fullest, definitely sounds more enjoyable. Believe me I fully understand, and that’s why I’m here to help. Rather than order in something you’ll regret later on, why not take 30 minutes, that’s it that’s all you need, and cook up a big pot of comfort pasta? That sounds like a good idea to me. This pasta is springtime ready because it’s loaded with vibrant and fresh flavors, like mint, basil, lemon and peas. It’s a creamy sauce, sure, but it’s a creamy sauce on the lighter end with just a little bit of creme fraiche thinned out with pasta cooking water. It’s less than 10 ingredients and you probably already have most of them on hand. Remember how earlier in the week I mentioned that we should take back our weekends and unplug more often? This recipe is perfect for that. Let’s keep up our summer goal and disconnect from the internet as much as possible (after reading this post of course). Let’s all Cheers to the Weekend!
The first thing we need to do is crisp up some pancetta. Cook it in a large pot with a little bit of olive oil, to help it along. Once the fat has rendered, and the pancetta is crispy and browned, transfer to a small dish, using a slotted spoon.
**Tip: If you can’t find pancetta, feel free to use good ol’ bacon instead. You’ll still get the same flavor, only with a bit of smokiness from the bacon.**
If there is too much grease in the pot, drain all but 2 tablespoons of it. Then stir in the shallot and garlic and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Make sure to give it a stir often, so that it doesn’t burn.
**Note: Sometimes shallots are hard to find, or maybe you don’t want to go to the store just for that. That’s okay, go ahead and use white or yellow onion instead.**
Stir in creme fraiche, that’s where the creamy part comes in, and a bit of the pasta cooking liquid to loosen it up and create a sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Maybe even a little crushed red pepper flake if you like a little heat.
**Note: Cream cheese or mascarpone cheese would be good substitutes for creme fraiche if you prefer. Do you get the theme here? I want this to be super simple for you! So if you need to swap out some ingredients for others, that’s okay! This dish is very low maintenance.**
Stir in the cooked pasta shells and frozen peas (don’t worry about thawing out since the heat from the pasta will do that for ya). If the sauce is too thick, stir in a bit more pasta water to loosen it up. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning accordingly, adding more salt or pepper as needed.
To give this pasta even more flavor, let’s stir in fresh mint and fresh basil, because fresh herbs make any dish 100 times better, trust me. Then stir in the crispy pancetta and lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Cook it for about a minute longer here to give everything a chance to fully marry together and the flavors to develop from the heat.
**Note: If you want to give this dish some more substance or a hearty bite, you can try stirring in shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken from the store would make it super easy) or you can even add Italian sausage!**
Have I mentioned that leftovers for this dish are OUT OF THIS WORLD? That makes this dish a great thing to make in it’s entirety even if you don’t have a lot of people to share it with. Make the full batch, and keep it in your fridge for the next day. You’ll be so thankful you listened to me.
I love recipes like this because they’re good to have on hand just in case you suddenly have people coming over and don’t know what to make. You don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen (aka no time in the kitchen) and this definitely fits the bill. It’s done in 30 minutes and honestly the longest waiting part is cooking the pasta. If you can boil water, you can make this recipe.
Keep this recipe under your sleeve for when you want something quick and delicious. Make it this weekend so you have more time to relax and enjoy your days off. Pasta is always a good decision, no matter how you look at it. Let’s Cheers to the Weekend with a big bowl of comfort and maybe a few shows we have to catch up on. Deal?
- 1 pound small pasta shells
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼-pound diced pancetta
- 1 large shallot, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup creme fraiche (or mascarpone cheese)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- ⅓ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
- fresh lemon slices for serving
- Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil, and salt generously. Stir in the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.
- Set a large pot over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Once hot, add in the pancetta. Cook until browned and crispy, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Once the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crispy, transfer to a small dish with a slotted spoon. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of grease from the pot. Stir in the shallot and garlic and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the creme fraiche and ½ cup of the reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked shells, peas, mint, basil, the browned pancetta and parmesan. Give it all a big stir and cook over low for 1 to 2 minutes. If the sauce appears to be too thick, stir in enough of the remaining reserved pasta water to develop a loose sauce. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Serve with parmesan on top and a wedge of lemon. Enjoy!