It seems the sub-freezing temperatures that set in this week are here to stay and we’ve finally begun to see the heart of Brooklyn winter. Local produce has rapidly dwindled to a limited selection of root vegetables, cold storage apples a handful of hearty greens. I confess that by this time I’ve had more than enough apples and it won’t be long before even winter squash seems a bore. The Spring harvest is a long way off.
I always wait until January to break into the stock of foods I’ve hoarded in my freezer for winter months: Tomato and tomatillo sauce, frozen peas, pesto, zucchini bread and the random quart or two of corn chowder or broccoli soup. From now on I will carefully ration these items as we otherwise consume hearty meals of meat, beans and grains. I will look to my spice cabinet instead of my herb garden and occasionally dream of things like peaches and bikinis.
Eventually I’ll be desperate for variety and fresh produce, but when I first break into my winter storage, it’s more like a treasure trove than a bunker pantry. The other night I sacrificed a bag of dried cherry tomatoes from my farmer friend Ray Bradley and a bag of freshly shelled and frozen green peas, and paired these precious items with some amazing dried pasta that my good pal Alexis brought me back from a recent trip to Italy. I added some pecorino cheese left from a holiday feast to a light cream sauce, and for a moment I could almost taste summer.
Torcetti with Sundried Tomatoes, Peas and Cream
- 1 lb. dried short pasta (torcetti, strozzapreti, campanelle, etc.)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- freshly ground black pepper
- minced parsley for garnish (optional)
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions until just tender.
While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the sun-dried tomatoes, stirring occasionally until they begin to soften (about 3 minutes). Add the cream to the pan along with the peas and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer gently until the peas are warmed (about 5 minutes).
When the pasta is ready, reserve a bit of cooking water, drain and add immediately to the cream pan along with cheese and a very generous amount of black pepper. Toss until combined, you can add a splash of cooking water if it seems dry, taste and salt if necessary, then serve garnished with a light dusting of parsley.