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Dinner Tonight: Orecchiette with Peas, Prosciutto, and Crème Fraîche

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Though cream is the ultimate cheater's ingredient in pasta—I regularly campaign against its inclusion in pasta carbonara—somehow crème fraîche is OK in my book. Like sour cream, it has that essential tang to temper the richness, yet it's lighter, sweeter, subtler. I can't imagine myself dolloping half a cup of sour cream into a bowl of pasta, but crème fraîche in this dish with fresh spring peas turns it into a decadent dinner.

Speaking of carbonara, the idea behind this dish is really the same: creamy pasta with a punch of cured pork. The prosciutto elevates it into fancier, though no less hearty, fare. The recipe itself is easier to pull off than carbonara, which involves eggs. Here you basically combine the sauce ingredients and warm them through before adding the hot pasta and some cooking water. It took me the same amount of time as boiling and cooking the pasta.

Orecchiette with Peas, Prosciutto, and Crème Fraîche

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. After a year in Estonia, he's now living in Chicago.

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