Gemelli Pasta with Shelled Peas, Lemon & Mint

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, this light and lovely pasta recipe sings of spring.

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh gemelli pasta
2 cups fresh shelled peas (from about 1 lb. in the pod)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta, and cook according to package instructions. Add peas to cook during the last 30 seconds of pasta cooking time. Reserve ½ cup cooking water, set aside. Drain the pasta and the peas together.

2. Dry out the pasta pot, and pour in the heavy cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, and cook until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the butter, and stir it until it has melted. Generously season the sauce with black pepper, add a pinch of salt as well as the lemon zest. Add ¾ cup Parmesan, and stir it until the sauce is smooth; then toss in the drained pasta & peas.

3. Cook the pasta in the sauce for 2 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the reserved pasta water by the spoonful if needed to loosen up the sauce. Garnish with remaining Parmesan, chopped parsley and mint and serve immediately.

Pasta with Italian Sausage, Sauteed Kale and Mushrooms

Also tossed with sweet onions and a topping of Grana-style cheese, this pasta is incredibly satisfying.

Ingredients:
1 pound strozzapreti pasta, or other pasta of your choice
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 bunch Lacinato kale, stripped of tough ribs and torn into large pieces
2 cups Portobello mushrooms, washed and thinly sliced
1 sweet onion, peeled and diced
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons butter, divided
¼ cup Grana-style cheese, grated

Method:
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil, then add the pasta. Cook until the strozzapreti is al dente, about 7-8 minutes. Reserve ½ cup pasta water, then drain pasta.

2. Meanwhile, cook the sausage in a skillet over medium heat until done, breaking into bite-sized chunks with a spoon. Remove the sausage to a plate and reserve. Wipe any excess sausage grease from the pan and then heat 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in the skillet. Once warm, add the onions, mushroom and garlic, tossing to coat with oil and butter. Season with salt and pepper, then cover and sweat until mushrooms are tender and garlic is fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Add in kale and cook until just slightly wilted, about another minute or so.

3. Add drained pasta and sausage to the skillet with the vegetables, then toss everything together with the rest of the olive oil and butter. If pasta seems a little dry, mix in reserved pasta water. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve with Grana-style cheese to sprinkle over pasta.

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