Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta

Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta

Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta

It’s a sprightly mash-up of two traditional Italian pasta dishes: Paglia e Fieno and Pasta e Fagioli. Paglia e fieno, translates to “straw and hay” named for its two color fettuccine made from both egg and spinach. The yellow and green pastas are typically paired with prosciutto and peas and Parmesan. Pasta e fagioli is a brothy dish combining pasta and beans.

Here, conchigliette (small pasta shells) are paired with peas and bacon in a flavorful chicken and vermouth-based broth, brightened with fresh mint. Scoops of whole milk ricotta are stirred into the broth taking the place of the traditional rich Parmesan cream sauce. A sprightly mash-up indeed.

Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta Recipe

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One Leg of Lamb, Two Presentations

lamb tower ten ingredient

Roasted-then-Grilled Leg of Lamb Medallion
Soy Sauce-Olive Oil-Garlic Marinade, Cracked Pepper Crust

Minted Edamame Puree, Whole Wheat Couscous
Grilled Zucchini, Shiitake, Tomato

lamb au poirve

Roasted-then-Grilled Leg of Lamb Medallion
Soy Sauce-Olive Oil-Garlic Marinade, Cracked Pepper Crust

Minted Edamame Puree, Whole Wheat Couscous
Grilled Zucchini, Shiitake, Scallion

Nine ingredients remain the same. Only one ingredient varies – swap a grilled tomato for a grilled scallion to create two totally different presentations. We served these leg of lamb dishes as a test for the “Lean on Lamb” challenge to create healthy recipes for entertaining. The challenge is to cook a leg of lamb as the main-course for 8 people using no more than 10 ingredients (excluding salt & pepper) with a prep time of under 30 minutes.

After preparing 4 lamb dishes over several days, we decided on Leg of Lamb, Curry Quinoa Crust as the one to submit to the contest. That dish, served over Steamed Spinach with a Curried Heirloom Tomato Salsa with Mint and Avocado & Serrano Chile with Lime had it all – color, flavor, texture, balance plus the seasonal element. Though our Lamb Medallion Stack, Warm Anchovy-Pine Nut Vinaigrette with a Dijon Mustard Anchovy Crust, Polenta Cake, Spinach, Parsley, Tomato was pretty popular too, especially with that warm savory vinaigrette.

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Spring Bliss: Sugar Snap Pea, Avocado, Tomato, Mint

spring bliss soup, sugar snap pea soup, chilled pea and mint soup

Chilled Sugar Snap Pea & Mint Soup
Mashed Avocado with Lime, Tomato Concassé with Shallot
Fresh Mint, Chili Oil & Creme Fraiche Garnish

A vendor at the Farmers’ Market was handing out samples of fresh-from-the-vine sugar snap peas. Telling people just to eat them as is, no cooking necessary. They were sweet & exploding with flavor, crunchy, the color of spring. Few of us could pass up buying a basket or two. Once home, I turned to my favorite vegetable cookbook Charlie Trotter’s Vegetables for inspiration: Sugar Snap Pea Soup. A simple and refreshing chilled soup. With avocado for richness, tomato for sweet acidity, mint for brightness. Spring. Bliss.

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Eggplant & Spiced Lamb Napoleon

Grilled Eggplant Layered with Spiced Lamb
Roasted Tomato, Feta, Mint

The seasons fly by, don’t they? We just held our Lusty Month of May Springtime Jazz Feast, and here we are already testing dishes for our Sunken City Supper Club SUMMER Event, “Mediterranean on the Pacific.”

It will be held at our friends’ home high on the hill in Rancho Palos Verdes overlooking the Pacific Ocean. For this theme we will be imagining that the ocean is the Mediterranean Sea. We’ll be cooking with seasonal summer ingredients and Mediterranean flavors. This dish made the cut…

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Light and Lovely Pea & Mint Omelette

Extra-Fluffy Egg Whites/ Petite Peas/ Fresh Mint/ Fruity Olive Oil

Thank you so much for your kind words and congratulations on the 3rd Anniversary of Taste With The Eyes. I hope you had a chance to leave a comment on the Blog is 3! Celebrating with King Trumpets and Shishito Peppers! post for an opportunity to win a copy of the truly remarkable Charlie Trotter’s Vegetables. (It’s not too late! Simply leave a comment on that post by June 24th). Trotter has a passion for vegetables and his ingenious pairings and presentations are works of art.


Now, about this light and lovely pea & mint omelette…

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Grilled Rack of Lamb, Haricot Vert Amandine

Grilled Rack of Lamb with Herbed Hawaiian Red Salt
Mint Vinegar Sauce
Haricot Vert Tossed with Roasted Walnut Oil, Marcona Almonds

A special thank you to Peter of Kalofagas blog, and ultimately Bobby Flay, for the idea to crust the lamb with herbed salt. Here I took fresh mint, parsley and dill and blended in a food processor with Hawaiian Red Salt.

Hawaiian Red Salt
A small amount of harvested reddish Hawaiian clay called alaea enriches the sea salt with iron-oxide.
The traditional red salt originated on Kauai, where red volcanic clay mingled with sea salt during heavy rains. Evaporation created Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt.
The herbed salt looked like little jewels, watermelon tourmaline crystals to be exact. Beautiful!

The rack was removed from the refrigerator about an hour before cooking. It is massaged with fresh ground pepper and the herbed salt. (You can also wrap each bone with strips of aluminum foil to keep them from blackening).

Place lamb rack on the hot grill with a remote thermometer inserted into the meat. Close the lid and turn the fire to medium. It is important to watch as there may be fire flare-ups. If so, douse with a sprinkle of water. Turn the rack over once. When the temperature reaches 140 degrees (for medium-pink) remove the lamb from the grill and let it rest. Once the lamb was removed from the heat the temperature went up to 155 degrees while resting, then when it came back down to 140, it was sliced. I like to use the temperature to determine when the meat is ready to be sliced.

Very little of the juices were lost when slicing by waiting for the temperature to come back down. This method gave us juicy and smokey medium-pink chops exceptionally well-seasoned with the herbed salt and pepper.

In the meantime it is a snap to make a tasty mint vinegar sauce to complement the lamb. And to whomever it was that came up with the idea to pair not just mint, but vinegar too, with lamb, thank you very much.

The haricot vert are steamed then tossed with Hawaiian red salt, roasted walnut oil, and Spanish marcona almonds.
If you haven’t cooked a rack of lamb on the grill, you just might want to give this smokey version a try!

Lamb Rib Chops, Mint Sauce

Another classic food pairing – lamb with mint sauce.

Mint Sauce:
Heat equal parts rice wine vinegar and water to a boil. Add honey and a splash of tamari (soy sauce) to taste. Finish by adding finely chopped fresh mint.

Lamb Rib Chops – Cut from the Rack, Cooked to Medium with a Nice Crust:

  • Brush the cold chops with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
  • Place them in a heated pan on medium-high heat for 4 minutes on each side.
  • Place the pan in a 400 degree oven for 4 minutes.
  • Let rest before serving.
Ladle mint vinegar sauce on to the plate, then place the lamb on top. Garnish with mint sprig.
China Pattern: Spode, Regency Series “Jasmine”
Made in England, pattern first introduced c. 1825