I love peas. When I'm told that someone doesn't like peas, I take it very personally. In fact, I make a point of unearthing and undoing whatever childhood trauma has led to this sorry state of affairs. There, there. Even if you were repeatedly subjected to canned peas, or to green peas boiled to yellow, we'll overcome this—together.
You see, if cooked gently and allowed to retain their bright green color, peas will surprise you with their sweetness. Let shallots and cream play up the peas' natural sugars, use crisped prosciutto to provide rousing, salty contrast, and you're on the road to pea rehabilitation.
And you've spent just $6.83 to get there.
The Shopping List
Note: Items bought in large quantities, like the pasta and prosciutto, have been pro-rated for cost. Ingredients a cook can reasonably be expected to have on hand are considered "Pantry Items" and are not factored into recipe cost.
10-ounce box frozen peas - $1.49
8 ounces whipping cream - $1.59
Half of a 3-ounce package of sliced prosciutto - $2.59 (total cost of item - $5.19)
Half of a 1-pound box of spaghetti - $0.99 (total cost of item - $1.99)
2 shallots - $0.17
Butter, ground nutmeg (optional), salt and pepper
The Star Ingredient
I get nervous when I don't have cheap, versatile, frozen peas on hand. Freezing the peas doesn't seem to hurt them at all, and they can be dropped into anything from fried rice to stew to noodle soup without prior thawing. I put them in Thai-style omelets dressed with soy sauce, sesame oil, and chopped chilis; I sauté them with chopped bacon for a quick side dish, or I purée that same sauté with cream and chicken stock to make a silky, Kermit-colored soup.
Eat for Eight Bucks: Spaghetti in Creamy Pea Sauce with Crisped Prosciutto
About This Recipe
- 1/2 pound spaghetti, or other pasta
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 2 shallots, minced
- 10 ounces frozen peas (do not thaw)
- 1 cup whipping cream
- Pinch nutmeg (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium skillet over low heat and gently sweat shallots until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the frozen peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until peas are softened and vibrantly green, 2 minutes. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender or food processor. Add cream and purée till smooth.
Place a sieve over a small saucepan. Pour the pea purée into the sieve, pushing it through with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Discard solids. Over a low flame, warm the purée through. Remove from heat and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Optional: a pinch of ground nutmeg will accentuate the sweetness of the peas.
Toss the cooked spaghetti in the sauce. Serve topped with crisped prosciutto, 1-2 slices per person. The prosciutto can also be crumbled into small shards and sprinkled over the spaghetti.
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Arrange prosciutto slices on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until crispy.