Spring peas are one of my favorite things. Watching their determined shoots spring up from the dirt, stretching towards the sun and climbing anything it can wind itself around. Soft white flowers open, and before you have realized it, peas appear.
This pasta bake combines these sweet bites and leeks of spring with hearty bacon and cheese for a dish that’s comforting, but not too heavy. It’s a transition from cold weather to warm, as we watch the earth start to grow above the surface again.
The paccheri pasta are thick, sturdy tubes that will lend a lasagna-like texture to the finished bake. If you can’t find them, try a rigatoni pasta in their place.
|1 Lb.||Paccheri Pasta|
|4 Slices||Thick-Cut Bacon, Diced|
|2 Leeks||Whites and Light Green Portions, Minced|
|1 Tsp||Granulated Garlic|
|1 1/2 Cup||Spring Peas|
|1 Cup||Dry White Wine|
|2 Cups||Ricotta Cheese|
|1/2 Cup||Parmesan Cheese|
|2 Tsp||Whole Leaf Tarragon|
|1/2 Tsp||White Pepper|
|2 Tbsp||Fresh Parsley, Chopped|
1) In a large pot of salted water, cook paccheri pasta 2-3 minutes shorter than directed, so they are toothsome. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water, and rinse with cold water.
2) Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a large baking pan or casserole dish.
3) In a large saucepan, brown the bacon over medium heat. Remove bacon bits from the pan and add in the leeks. Cook for 10 minutes, until tender. Stir in the granulated garlic and the peas. Cook for one more minute.
4) Stir in the reserved pasta water and the white wine. Heat slowly. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, ricotta, egg, and cheese, reserving 2 tablespoons of cheese for the top. Slowly stir into the leeks and peas. Cook just until warm and mix in the tarragon and white pepper.
5) Using the pasta pot or a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, the leek and pea mixture, and half the bacon. Pour into the prepared pan. Top with remaining cheese and bacon
6) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until heated through. Remove from oven; allow to rest slightly before serving.
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