Home > Food > Pasta, Peas, Prosciutto: Pleasure

Pasta, Peas, Prosciutto: Pleasure

[Evan Sung for The New York Times]

There was a period when I would make it a point to catch Mark Bittman’s weekly food video at the NYT website, but some time in the last year, I got out of the habit. Then, a month ago, the title of his newest video — Pasta With Peas, Prosciutto and Lettuce — got my attention. That sure sounded good. I watched. Then I got Gail and had her watch it too. After which I forgot about it. Until yesterday, when we were talking about dinner and Gail suggested that we have try the dish.

We found the Bittman article for which the video was an accompaniment, reviewed the recipe, and bought the ingredients. This afternoon, Gail prepared the dish.

You may be familiar with Bittman’s 2008 book Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes, in which he describes the healthy diet that he adopted and offers recipes to fit the diet. The pasta dish I’m discussing fits into this diet, as Bittman explains in the article:

Since I began eating more plants and less meat, I’ve experimented with using small amounts of meat in ways that exploit its flavor without making it central to the dish. In this recipe — pasta with spring vegetables — the meat is literally a garnish, but one with huge impact.

That meat is prosciutto, and it’s briefly cooked in a bit of oil, which accomplishes two things: It intensifies the ham’s salty, meaty flavor, and it makes the prosciutto crisp, turning it into a nice textural foil for the tender pasta, peas and lettuce.

. . . Even staunch meat eaters will enjoy this dish. But conveniently, if you’re serving vegetarians, you can just leave off the garnish.

Bittman’s right about how the crisp prosciutto makes it a great foil for the pasta, peas, and lettuce. I loved the dish. It had a great mix of textures, flavors, and colors.

Gail and Joel were less enthusiastic. I don’t understand why. Gail suggested it might be better with a different green in place of lettuce, such as chard. Maybe. We can try that next time. But I’m quite happy with it as is, and look forward to the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Or maybe breakfast. Why wait?

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