*This post is created in partnership with Cabot Creamery. They are a cooperative owned by 1,000 farm families throughout New York & New England and remarkably they get to boast the incredible title of the World’s Best Cheddar. How do we know? Well, they have won every major award for taste. All I know is that I can’t stop eating it and it makes this pasta dish I have for you today irresistible.
I recently got the chance to eat cheese and drink wine with them in Napa and while we were there we created three recipes that I think you all will love. Make sure you follow them to get all those recipes and more. Now let’s talk cheesy pasta.
Even with the sun pouring through the windows, the house well-heated as a result, I still get the occasional craving for a abundant bowl of cheesy pasta. Sometimes I have the appetite of a child but really, when doesn’t cheese and pasta sound good?
I’m pretty excited to share this technique with you all. It’s a sort of macaroni and cheese/ carbonara hybrid. It has the craveable cheesiness of macaroni and cheese with the simple technique of carbonara. It’s incredible pantry-friendly and highly adaptable. Don’t have bacon or pancetta? No problem, it’d be fine without. Have a glut of zucchini (so often the case this time of year)? Roast or caramelize in a pan then use that in lieu of the snap peas. Fresh cherry tomatoes or blistered corn would also be lovely if those happen to be lingering. And never hesitate to toss in fresh herbs by the handfuls.
In order to get that creamy sauce that coats the pasta in that unmistakable carbonara-like way – you know what I mean, right? It’s slick but not greasy, covers the pasta but isn’t thick and gluey. In order to get that consistency we whip eggs with the finely grated cheddar cheese and add the hot pasta directly to the eggs. The starchy pasta water holds the secret key to the magic is its heat helps to further melt the cheese while the starch creates a cohesive sauce coating the nooks and crannies of each individual noodle.
The sugar snap peas are quickly sautéed just after the pancetta crisps. Their pleasant bite brings to the dish virtue and a delightful crunch that sets off the creaminess brilliantly. If pea vines are still available I recommend crowning the pasta or arugula will fill in nicely.
Sit down with a bowl along with a chilled glass of crisp Chardonnay.
Mac and Cheese "Carbonara style" with Blistered Snap Peas Serves 4 to 6
6 ounces/170 g pancetta or bacon cut into 1/2 -inch strips
1 pound fresh snap peas
1 pound/ 450 g short pasta (macaroni, gemelli, or orecchiette)
6 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) grated Cabot Alpine Cheddar cheese
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to finish
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus more to finish
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 ounces pea vines (optional)
Olive oil and flake salt to finish
Add enough water to fill a large dutch oven or stock pot up halfway then stir in enough salt to make the water taste of the sea. Bring this to a boil.
While the water comes to a boil, crisp up the pancetta in a large skillet, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sugar snap peas and cook just until their color brightens and exterior blackens in parts, 2 to 3 minutes.
Cook the pasta until al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes.
In a large bowl stir together the cheddar cheese and eggs until thoroughly combined.
Add the hot noodles directly to the egg mixture and stir well and quickly so as not to cook the eggs. Add a bit of the pasta water as needed to create a creamy sauce.
To the pasta add the pancetta and sugar snap peas then stir in the lemon zest and juice.
Transfer the pasta to a serving platter then top with the pea vines and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and add flake salt to finish.