Pasta with Creamy Bacon and Pea Sauce

After being glued to the TV every Friday night to watch Jamie Oliver work his magic on Food Revolution, Billy and I decided it was time to go pick up his latest book and get some new British inspiration. Jamie’s Food Revolution Cookbook is full of simple, flavorful and (most of all) healthful meals that are accessible to any home cook in America. Much like the show did for public schools, Jamie’s Food Revolution helps the average American rediscover what healthy, home-cooked eating is all about, without skimping on flavor.

The first recipe we tried from the food revolution cookbook was this pasta with bacon and peas in a creamy sauce. I think this recipe is proof that you don’t have to cut out things you love (like carbs and creamy goodness) to eat healthy — everything is acceptable in moderation.

Pasta with Creamy Bacon and Pea Sauce

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Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: 4
– 1 pound small shaped pasta
– 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 to 2 tbsp butter
– 10 slices bacon or pancetta, cut into short, thin slices
– 2 cups frozen peas
– 2 heaping tbsp creme fraiche
– small bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
– salt and pepper
– juice of 1 lemon
– 6 oz. Parmesan cheese

Instructions:
This is another recipe with a really simple sauce, so before you start any really cooking you want to bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop your pasta. Make sure to reserve a cup or so of the cooking water. We started cooking the sauce as the water began to boil and the timing seemed to work out perfectly.

In a large, high-sided pan, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Toss the bacon into the pan with some pepper and cook until crispy and golden brown, about five minutes. Add the peas to the pan, stirring to combine. Give the peas a minute or two to defrost, then add the creme friache and mint. Stir until the creme friache has melted and coated everything nicely. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta and add it directly to the sauce pan. Pour the lemon juice over the pasta and stir everything to combine well, making sure the sauce coats each piece of pasta nicely. Finally, mix in the Parmesan cheese. Add some of the cooking liquid to thin out the sauce if desired (this is based totally on personal preference…we didn’t add any water).

This is really a great recipe — something different, yet familiar. The combination of the creme friache and Parmesan made for an extra creamy sauce that wasn’t too heavy. The mint brought a great springy, fresh flavor to the pasta without overpowering it, and the peas burst in your mouth in every bite. The bacon gave the whole dish a light smokey flavor, but I think next time I’d opt for pancetta in place of it (Billy disagrees). This is a great creamy pasta dish for those who fine traditional cream sauces too heavy, and a great dish for spring and summer months. I think it would also be great with some grilled Italian sausage.

Check out this (and other!) recipes from Jamie’s Food Revolution Cookbook on his website. Jamie’s recipes never disappoint, and with all the new healthy ones, you can’t go wrong!

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