Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pasta with Peas and (poor man's) Prosciutto ... featuring Pumpkin and Peppers #PumpkinCan

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of LIBBY’S Pumpkin. All opinions are 100% mine.

Pasta with Peas and Prosciutto is a classic dish, but not everyone has Prosciutto sitting around in the refrigerator. So, I decided to make my version using the famous Mr. Prosciutto's understudy, bacon.

And that's when things really got out of hand.

I mean, if you change one thing, you might as well go complete crazy, right?

The whole idea started with gnocchi. And pumpkin. Or actually pumpkin gnocchi, which is something I've made before. But this time, I decided to use the pumpkin to make a more standard pasta. And while peas and Prosciutto are classic, this may have verged a little bit towards Pasta Primavera, with the addition of some extra vegetables.

Then this conversation happened:

Ring-ring. Riiiiing-ring.

'ello ...

Hey, Donna, what are you doing today?

I'm going to make pasta.

But, that takes like 10 minutes.

No, I'm making pasta. Not just cooking it. Making it. Like, mixing and kneading and rolling it.

*moment of stunned silence* Okay, you're just crazy. I'm hanging up on you now.

Seriously, though, making pasta isn't that difficult, particularly if you have a few helpful tools. I used my stand mixer to do the kneading, and I used stand mixer attachment to roll and cut the pasta.

And, if you're wondering about pumpkin in pasta, the flavor isn't prominent, but it adds a slight earthiness and some color as well - it looks like a very egg-rich pasta with just one egg. Plus, you're getting the benefit of having a vegetable right there in the pasta, along with extra fiber and vitamins.

Although I haven't tried it, I'm sure this could be made without any egg at all - just use another 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree, or reduce the amount of flour.

For more ways to see what you can do with pumpkin, check out #PumpkinCan.

Pumpkin Pasta

3 cups (13 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup LIBBY’S 100% Pure Pumpkin (from a 15-ounce can)

Combine all ingredients, then knead until smooth. The dough should be dense, not hard and it should feel stretchy and bouncy. If you're hand kneading, it's not as easy as kneading bread, but it should still be kneadable.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for a minimum of 30 minutes before rolling.

If you have a pasta machine, roll the pasta according to the manufacturer's instructions. No matter how you do it, you'll want to divide the pasta into 4-6 pieces before rolling, or you'll end up with massively long strips of pasta. If the dough seems wet and sticky after resting, flour it generously as you run it through the pasta machine. After a few runs through, it will need just a gently dusting, or perhaps no flour at all.

I used my stand mixer attachment and rolled to a final setting of 3, then cut it with the fettucini-sized cutter.

If you don't have a pasta maker, you can simply roll the dough very thin and cut it into strips with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.

If you're going to be piling the pasta up, make sure you dust it very generously to keep it from sticking to itself. If you have a pasta rack, you can also hang the pasta to keep it separated.

We're not going to let it get dry, so we just need to keep it separated long enough to cook it.

Pumpkin Pasta with Peas, Poor-man's Prociutto (Bacon!) and Peppers
Co-starring Pzucchini and Ponions (The p's are silent)

6 strips bacon
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1 small zucchini, diced
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk (or cream, if you prefer)
1 batch pumpkin pasta
1/2 cup frozen green peas
Water or milk, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

Put a large pot of generously salted water on to boil to cook the pasta. The pasta cooks very fast since it's fresh, and the rest of this comes together very quickly once everything is prepped.

Speaking of prepping, cut the bakon crosswise into strips about 1/4 in wide. When you cut the vegetables, cut them into pieces about the same size as the peas. They can be slightly larger, but we don't want giant chunks.

Once everything is prepped, heat a very large frying pan on medium and add the bacon. Cook, stirring as needed, just until the bacon becomes translucent.

Add the onions and stir. Let the onions cook until they're also barely translucent.

Add the bell pepper. Let this mixture cook, stirring as needed until the vegetables are almost cooked through.

Add the zucchini and cook for another minute or two, until you see that the zucchini is beginning to cook through. We're not looking for browning and we definitely don't want it soft.

If there's a lot of bacon grease in the bottom of the pan, drain some of it out - we want to retain some of it, but the vegetables shouldn't be drowning in grease.

Add the flour and stir to combine. This should dry up most or all of the oil in the pan. Continue cooking and stirring for a few minutes more. If the flour begins to brown a bit, that's fine, but we don't want it burning.

Now's a good time to drop that pasta into the boiling water. Shake off as much flour as you can before you drown it, and give it a stir to make sure it's not sticking together.

Add the milk to the vegetable mixture, and stir to combine. The mixture will thicken significantly. Let it come to a bubbly simmer and let it cook while the pasta cooks. If it thickens too much, add more milk or water to thin it to a sauce-like consistency. I don't suggest adding pasta water because it's probably got a lot of flour in it - even if you shook it off, there was probably plenty clinging to the surface.

Add a generous several grinds of black pepper to the vegetable mix, then taste and add more salt, if needed. Although the bacon is salty, we've got a lot going on here, so you might want a little more.

When the pasta is al dente - and watch it carefully because it doesn't take long - drain it and add it to the vegetables and sauce in the pan. If your pan isn't big enough to hold all the pasta, you can put everything back into the pasta cooking pot.

Add the peas and stir to make sure the pasta is coated with the sauce. At this point, you should have a gravy-like sauce clinging to the pasta. It shouldn't be watery. Cook it a little longer if it's too thin, and add more water if it seems to thick.

Serve hot.

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