Jamie Oliver’s Shell Pasta with Bacon and Peas

Sometimes I forget how few people cook. Spend enough time looking at food blogs, and you forget how many people bring home a sack of Mickey D’s for dinner (or microwave something from the freezer aisle.) When I first looked at Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook, I couldn’t help but think, none of these recipes really seem that good for you. Isn’t he trying to end obesity?

But maybe he has it right. If people think cooking is too complicated and fussy and that wholesome food can’t be as comforting as greasy delivery, the first step is to invite them into a warm kitchen. It’s to show them some satisfying low-maintenance dishes—to get them buying fresh food again, and sharing meals together with their families. Then maybe, once they’re comfortable, they’ll start getting creative in their cooking. While I balked at the richness of some of the dishes in this book, I can see where he’s going with this.

So on a night when I was a little low on steam, I put away the folder full of takeout options and pulled out my review copy of Jamie’s Food Revolution. I threw together this easy pasta, not altogether healthy but at least not deep fried. And the bacon smelled good sizzling in the pan. And even frozen peas are bright green and sweet in the winter. And I listened to the wonderful new Patty Griffin album while I stirred it all together.

It was simple, but it was good. Maybe I’ll even foray into the curry chapter next.

Shell Pasta with Bacon and Peas
adapted slightly from Jamie’s Food Revolution
serves 4

8 slices bacon or pancetta, preferably free-range or organic
a small bunch of fresh mint (maybe 16 stalks)
salt and pepper
1 lb dried mini shell pasta
olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter
2 cups frozen peas
3 tablespoons crème fraiche
1 lemon, cut in half, seeds removed
6 ounces parmesan cheese (hunk, grate it fresh.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt. Finely slice the bacon. Pick the mint leaves and discard the stalks. Finely grate the parmesan.

When water is boiling, add the shells and set a timer, cook shells until just al dente. Meanwhile, heat a saute pan over medium heat and add a splash of olive oil and the butter. Add the sliced bacon to the pan, grind a little pepper over and fry until golden and crisp.

Chop the mint leaves while the bacon fries. When the bacon is cooked, add the peas, stir, and add the creme fraiche and the mint. When the pasta is cooked, drain it but do not rinse. Add the pasta to the bacon and pea mixture, stir to distribute. Juice lemon over the pasta, let mixture begin to bubble, then turn off the heat. Add the grated parmesan and stir in, then serve with additional mint and parmesan if desired.

In pasta

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