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Frank’s Pasta with Peas

January 19, 2018

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Instagram is a wondrous thing. It’s definitely my social media addiction of choice (@leannekilroy) and I find myself getting lost inside its many (many) rabbit holes. (At this point I know everything there is to know about a girl I went to high school’s fiancé’s brother’s wife’s sister’s family, including that one of her rescue dogs, a lab mix, requires that we all pray for it). One of my favorite places to get lost is the feed of NYC restauranteur Frank (@frankprisinzano) and his NYC restaurants (@FrankRestaurant, @LilFrankies, @SupperNYC). I’ve spent too many nights scrolling through the glossy images of pasta and risotto, wiping the drool and planning to copy everything he does.

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Living in London means that it’s pretty easy to get an authentic Italian pizza, but it’s pretty impossible to get proper Italian American food. You know what I mean – chicken parm, spaghetti and meatballs and their more creative but no less comforting cohorts. I’m sure Frank would argue that his food isn’t Italian American but authentically Italian, and he’s right. But there’s something more heavy-handed, more unctuous, more satisfying in the way Americans eat, serve and enjoy Italian food. And it’s that abundance, that sauciness, that I crave and miss.

Good thing Frank posted the step-by-step making of an especially delicious looking plate, pasta with tomato sauce and peas, on his feed. I watched, drooled and made my version of it that night. Nothing like my tried and true pasta with peas, it turned out to be one of my most successful new pastas in a long while; everyone in the family – from the protein-obsessed man to the 10-month-old – adored it. Which should not have come as much of a surprise, considering Stella requests Frank’s spaghetti al limone – from his restaurant Supper – on the regular, even for her birthday.

No need to get lost in the Instagram rabbit hole in search of inspiration for tonight’s dinner: try this and save yourself the time and the drool.

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FRANK’S PASTA WITH PEAS

Makes enough for 4 generous servings. It’s the best kind of comfort food: dead simple and incredibly satisfying, without being too heavy. It’s even vegetarian! It’s nuts, really, how easy and delicious it is. I’m already planning to make it again very soon. Like tonight. 

2 onions, diced

big glug wine (white or red)

2 8-oz. cans (800 grams) crushed tomatoes

5 – 10 basil leaves

2 bay leaves

3 cups frozen peas

2/3 cup (170 fl) heavy (or double) cream

Finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, about 2/3 cup

1 bag/1 pound/500 grams dried short pasta – we used riccoli, but any short pasta works

In a large pot, sweat the onions in ample extra virgin olive oil over low heat for at least 15 minutes, up to 30. The longer the better. When the onions are clear and fragrant, add a big glug of wine and cook off the liquid until you can’t smell the alcohol anymore, a minute or two. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil and bay leaves and cook over medium heat, stirring every so often, until most of the liquid has been reduced, about 30 – 45 minutes. You can set this aside until you’re ready to make the pasta. (Remove the bay leaves before serving.)

To finish the dish, boil lots of water in a separate pot. Cook your pasta in heavily salted, vigorously boiling water until very al dente then strain (it will continue to cook slightly in the sauce). While the pasta boils, turn up the heat up under the sauce and add the frozen peas. When the pasta is just about ready, but still a teensy bit underdone, add strained pasta to the bubbling sauce, add in the cream and a handful of parimigiano, stirring and cooking for a few minutes, until pasta consistency is perfect.

Serve in bowls with extra grated parmigiano on top.

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