PEAS & SHELLS
Since the holidays will be kicking in soon, I thought I'd wait until next month to post my favorite dish of all time...my mother's Eggplant Parmagana.
As for this dish; I once saw an Italian movie (or "film" as you snobs say) about three guys who were standing in the unemployment line, making plans to rob a house. They staked out the situation, and broke into the place at night. There was a pot of peas and pasta on the stove, so they warmed it up, and sat around eating, and talking about the food for so long that they had to make a quick getaway without ever making the heist. When they were standing back in the unemployment line at the end of the story, one of them was whining about the failed attempt, but one of the other guys said, "Hey, what else could we have done, it was peas and pasta."
This is a soup but it's filling enough to eat as a main dish. If you try it, you'll understand why someone would be inspired to write a story around it.
* Olive Oil
* 1/4 yellow onion (or you can substitute 1 leek for the onion)
* 2 cloves of garlic
* Large can of peeled Italian tomatoes
* 1 bag of frozen baby peas, or two cans of peas
* Pinch of Oregano (optional)
* 1/2 box of small pasta shells
Cover the bottom of a fairly large pot with some olive oil, and fry the onion until they are almost clear...then fry the garlic a bit. Don't burn them...undercooking them is better than overcooking. Add the tomatoes, but crush them first (with your hand or a fork). Add a little oregano, salt and pepper. Let this mixture cook so the flavors are blended, be sure not to cook too long because the heat will eventually destroy the integrity of the tomatoes, and they will become mush. Add the baby peas, and let them cook until they're done.
Cook the pasta shells separately, be sure to salt your water - pasta water always needs to be salted. When these shells are done, add them to the mixture. Drain this pasta, but remember that you can add some of the pasta water to the mixture to give the dish the thick, soupy consistency it needs. Do not add the pasta water if you are using a pasta that is made without semolina wheat, because the water will be full of starch - add other water, instead.
Be sure to sprinkle with Romano!
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