This term’s Petits Chefs club is a smaller group of boys since it’s also a huge term for sports teams but I have a dedicated group who seem really excited to be learning some cooking skills and recipes. Since the smaller group is a little easier to manage, I have decided to use Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution cookbook as my guide, thus enabling me to bring in little snippets of my thoughts on the show which I am following. I certainly don’t mean to “preach” to the boys but education is the first step in any change and I think discussing some of the issues raised on the show will be great to get them thinking about what they eat and where it comes from.
Ok, enough of all that, onto this week’s recipe! I was thinking “spring” since the weather has been gorgeous. Nothing says spring like peas so I was drawn to the Mini Shell Pasta with a Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea sauce.
We actually used sour cream instead of crème fraîche since that is so hard to find in Toronto (well during a 30 minute break, that is!). I used full-fat sour cream since there were only 2 tablespoons in the recipe, I would rather eat a small amount of a full-fat product than a bucket of low or non-fat with all those chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients. I also couldn’t find fresh peas at short notice so I made sure to use organic frozen ones.
We started by dicing the bacon. I made the boys remove some of the fat since some rashers contained a lot. Even when we cooked it, there was still a lot of fat we had to drain from the pan.
We picked the mint leaves off the stalks and rolled the leaves, cutting them into fine strips:
Grated the cheese:
Then we got cooking:
Isn’t it beautiful? It tasted amazing – a combination of the mint and lemon juice really brought out the “spring” in this dish! From start to finish, including packing the dishwasher, about 40 minutes so definitely one I would add to my repertoire, considering I generally have all those ingredients on hand at home.
Bravo petits chefs!
Jamie Oliver’s mini shell pasta with peas, bacon and mint sauce
10 slices smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, preferably free-range or organic
a small bunch of fresh mint
150g Parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
optional: 1 chicken stock cube, preferably organic
400g dried mini shell pasta
a knob of butter
300g frozen peas
2 heaped dessertspoons crème fraîche (we used sour cream)
Main courses, Serves 4-6
Jamie says: This is one of the dishes I cook for my kids, but to be honest, it’s so good that me and Jools always eat it too! Mini pasta shells are actually meant to be added to soups, but they’re quick and easy to cook, which makes them a good thing to serve with pasta sauces. All in all this should take you no more than five and a half minutes to cook. However, if you decide to go for a bigger type of pasta, remember that it will need more time to cook than these mini shells.
To prepare your pasta
Finely slice the bacon
Pick the mint leaves and discard the stalks
Finely grate the Parmesan
To cook your pasta
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and drop in the stock cube (if using)
Stir until it’s dissolved, then add the mini shells and cook according to the packet instructions
Get a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a good lug of olive oil and the butter
Add the bacon to the pan, sprinkle a little pepper over and fry until golden and crisp
Meanwhile, finely chop your mint leaves
As soon as the bacon is golden, add your frozen peas and give the pan a good shake
After a minute or so, add the crème fraîche and chopped mint to the bacon and peas
Drain the pasta in a colander over a large bowl, reserving some of the cooking water
Add the pasta to the frying pan
Halve your lemon and squeeze the juice over the pasta
When it’s all bubbling away nicely, remove from the heat
The sauce should be creamy and delicious but if it’s too thick for you, add a splash of the reserved cooking water to thin it out a bit
Add the grated Parmesan and give the pan a shake to mix it in
To serve your pasta
Divide your pasta between plates or bowls, or put it on the table in a large serving dish and let everyone help themselves
Lovely with a simply dressed green salad