This is a simple dinner for early in the week, great at this time of year because the peas gives it a gentle taste of spring even while the nights remain long. Its simpicity is a joy after the richness of the festive period, with the stock and vermouth giving it depth.
It comes from the incomparable Anna del Conte, in her book Amaretto, Apple Cake and Artichokes. She recommends linguine but it worked well with spaghetti which I had in the cupboard. The original plan had been an aubergine pasta bake, from the same book, but there were no aubergine to be had - and sadly they have no substitute.
Spaghetti with Peas and Cream
Serves 4 - or 2 dinners and 2 cold lunches next day
fresh grated Parmesan for serving
45g unsalted butter
4 shallots, very finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
225g peas, defrosted if frozen
1 tbspn plain flour
6 tbspn dry vermouth
120ml chicken stock
150ml single cream
In a large sauté pan melt the butter with the shallots and sprinkle with the sugar and salt. Sauté the shallts until soft then add the peas. Coat them in the butter for 1 minute, sprinkle with the flour and cook for a further minute, stirring the whole time to prevent lumps. Stir in the vermouth, boil for 1 minute and then add the stock.
Cover the pan and regulate the heat so that the liquid simmers gently for the peas to cook, They must be tender, not just al dente. Stir inthe cream, cook for a couple of m inutes, Add pepper, taste and check the seasoning.
Meanwhile put a large pan of water on to boil. Add 1 1/2 tablepsoons of salt and when the water has come to a roaring boil, slide in the spaghetti, pushing the bundle down gently as the part under the water softens. Stir with a long fork, bring back to the boil then cook till the pasta is done. Drain, but do not over drain.
Put the pan back on a low heat and add the cream and peas. Stir rapidly till all the strands are coated. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.
Yours in 30 minutes or less.