When Flavio & I were in Italy for Easter earlier this year, we were treated to so many wonderful family dinners. And by “dinners,” I mean feasts. Nothing really compares to Italian hospitality.
One of these dinners was hosted by Flavio’s Zia Margherita and Zio Luigi. Margherita and Luigi are two of the finest cooks in the family (which is saying a lot, because everyone in this family makes amazing food). That night we had some incredible mussels broiled with lemon & breadcrumbs, asparagus risotto, chicken with mushroom-cream sauce, homemade salami, liqueur made from flowers that had been hand-picked in the Alps, home-grown strawberries…this is just the tip of the iceberg! But as delicious as everything was, these peas were my favorite. This is the only recipe I asked for. In fact, this is the only recipe I wrote down from our entire two weeks in Italy.
Zia Margherita’s Perfect Peas
(serves about 2, takes about 15 minutes)
- 1/4 onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil
- 2 c. frozen peas
- 1 c. diced ham or pancetta
- chicken bouillon (optional)
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 tbsp. butter (optional)
Fry the onion in the olive oil over medium heat. Add the peas and cook until they thaw–lower the heat if they seem to be thawing too quickly, or add a small spoonful of water if they are thawing too slowly. Add the ham or pancetta. For a richer flavor, add a little chicken bouillon (I cut a little chunk out of a bouillon cube). Season to taste with salt & pepper. For a velvety texture, stir in a little pat of butter at the end (this is my modification, because my peas weren’t quite as heavenly as Zia Margherita’s).
This is such a great little side dish for the middle of the week. I almost always have all of these ingredients on hand. Last weekend we bought half a ham at the grocery store, because it was on sale, and I diced the whole thing up and divided it into baggies in 1-cup increments. I also do this whenever I buy a package of bacon–wrap 4-5 slices in plastic and stick it in the freezer for a rainy day.