Bacon, Pea & Mint Casarecce

Thinking of what to cook for dinner each and every night can sometimes be a little daunting.  That’s why I keep a standby list of dinners in my repertoire to go to when my imagination and motivation are both low.  Bacon, pea, mint and ricotta cassarecce is one of them, and by far one of my favourites.   

This recipe begins with frying bacon.  And whenever a recipe starts with bacon frying I know I am guaranteed goodness.  I just love the way the bacon cooks imparting and rendering all of its juicy bacony fat into the oil which is later absorbed and sucked up by the pasta.  I have a slight obsession with carbonara purely because of this.  This recipe however is not all bacon.  No, there is a little dose of health in here by the way of peas, mint, lemon and ricotta. 

The petit pois not only add a gorgeous vibrant green colour to the pasta but also provide much needed sweetness to balance the salty goodness of the bacon.  The lemon and mint take it a step further by lightening the pasta and by adding a big dose of zesty springtime freshness.  The ricotta provides a smooth and creamy texture sensation that brings the whole pasta dish together.  And with a final flourish of parmesan and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, this dinner is ready in under 20 minutes and begs to be enjoyed.  Enjoy, K xxx

Bacon, Pea, Mint & Ricotta Casarecce

400g packet of casarecce or other short pasta, such as penne or rigatoni
300g bacon, diced
2 cups frozen peas
1 ¼ cups fresh ricotta, crumbled
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1 cup mint leaves, torn
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Grated parmesan, to serve

Cook pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water according to packet instructions.  Drain, reserving ½ cup of cooking water, then return pasta to pan.
Meanwhile, add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large frying pan on high heat.  Cook bacon, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the bacon is golden and crispy.  Add peas, lemon zest and ¼ cup water.  Bring to boil.  Simmer for 3 minutes, until peas are tender and water evaporates.
Add bacon mixture to pasta and toss on low heat.  Fold through ricotta and mint, adding the reserved cooking water if the mixture is a little dry.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and scatter with grated parmesan.  Serves 4.

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